So: understanding gifts


My cousin Ann passed away on July 23 just a month after being diagnosed with cancer. We never lived near enough to each other to hang out a lot and our 10-year age difference probably wouldn’t have made us best buds as kids, even though she always made a point to spend time with me when our family visited hers. Maybe that’s because in addition to sharing the same middle name, we have many similarities, including being what some people call “free spirits.”

Ann spent her life caring for and supporting others as a nurse and also as a laughter yoga instructor. She was a very spiritual person, mediated daily, and built a labyrinth on her property with the help of many friends. S In my adult life, I really enjoyed our email correspondence. And I will treasure the memories of her visit to Toronto with her husband and son. She will be deeply missed by all of the people whose lives she touched.

Today her family is holding a celebration of her life and while I can’t be with her family and friends in person, I will be remembering her today. Hopefully I’ll get a lot of laughs in because that’s what she’d want.

I shared the poem that follows with her son and husband.


Understanding the gift

Laughing high school student babysitting
An enthusiastic 5 year old.

Laughing working woman mentoring
An angst-filled high school student.

Laughing vacationer reminding
A jaded worker what’s really important

You always included me.
You always invited me.
You always laughed for me.
Because you always loved me.
Even though we were so far apart.

I could feel your laughs
Through your emails
And funny notes.

I could see your laughs
When you shared your dreams
In all their wild glories.

But I only understood your laughs
Once I really thought about them

They were breaths of kindness.
Sounds of compassion.
Exclamations of love.
All verbal embraces.
Freely given.

Precious gifts bestowed on many.
To make them rich beyond their wildest dreams
Not in their wallets!
In the place where it really matters.
The place where love resides.

Your laughter forced hearts open wider
Teacher, we’ll pay it forward.
And whenever we hear our own laughter,
We’ll feel your voice.


From Ann’s obituary: “Her motto: “Fear less and be fearless ” teachs us it will be okay. Live well, laugh often, “Namaste”.”

We would all be well served to follow her words.



4 thoughts on “So: understanding gifts

  1. I am sorry for your loss. Love the poem and yes, her words were wise. A great philosophy. Interesting your blog today is honouring and celebrating your cousin. I just finished writing my post for Tuesday — doing the same for my aunt.

    We are lucky to have had wonderful women in our lives.


    • Thank you. Yes, we were lucky. I’m sorry for your family’s loss too. I wrote this post a few days ago — I couldn’t sleep because so many things were bugging me. But I scheduled it to post when her memorial started. She would have thought that was pretty funny.


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