In the last few days, my heart has been so heavy. A dear friend lost a parent and I learned that a very special woman of just 41 years was losing her life and leaving a loving husband and 3 very young daughters behind. I had the honor of participating in the funeral for the first, and because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the same for this young woman (who lives in the Gulf Coast area), the funeral took on double meaning.
It is sometimes hard to understand life and death and grief. Sometimes putting words to paper helps, so I dusted off this blog so that I could attempt to capture a little bit of how I was feeling about my friend. Her light will shine on through her daughters and I hope they will someday understand who their mommy was and what she meant to others.
Today’s advice to my beautiful daughters – Be like Tara
On Saturday, I learned that an old friend and co-worker had suffered a catastrophic aneurysm and would not live. Her husband, Matt communicated that she was adamant about being an organ donor and he was honoring her wishes by keeping her on life support until donors could be identified. At 9:30pm on January 28, Tara had her honor walk on the way to the operating room for her donation. In death, just as in life, she is helping others in the most meaningful way that anyone can help – she is giving herself so that others can live. Be like Tara – be generous and willing to sacrifice for others.
On Sunday, as I read through our old messages over the years, I was reminded of how special she was. She told me once that I helped her, gave her confidence. If that is true, there is no greater compliment, but the reality is that she did exactly that for me. She believed in me and helped me to be successful in my first management role. As I think about the way she always encouraged others, I realized that we all need a Tara in our orbit. Be like Tara. Be the person who encourages, who gives confidence, who brightens a room with a smile. Be compassionate, be a good team member, whether the team be in your family or in your work.
Tara always wanted to learn, to be better. From her formal education, to just learning new things that would help those around her, Tara was there. When she made mistakes or encountered a difficult situation, the common refrain in all of her communications to me was, “Help me learn, help me be better so that I can be a better member of the team.” Be like Tara – be curious, seek knowledge, always look for ways that you can do better. Learn from your mistakes and apply those lessons to the next situation. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance and ask for help.
Tara’s family didn’t look like most families. Tara pursued her career while Matt took on the hard job of stay at home parenting and all that it entails. I always got the sense that he was her rock, and at no time was that more evident than in her last days. Their partnership worked because they did what worked best for them and their family. Tara wasn’t afraid to buck our cultural preconceived notion of the family and that courage bore much fruit. Matt was her provider in some of the most important ways. And I suspect he would say the same about her. Be like Tara – do not be afraid to listen to your heart instead of the clamoring voices in the world who will tell you how to live. Do what makes your team strong.
As I have watched Tara and Matt’s Facebook timelines over the last few days, I have seen an outpouring of friendship and grief. I have seen people post about the kind of friend she was, about the kind of mom she was. Be like Tara – be the kind of friend who makes an impact, who is always there with a phone call or word or encouragement. Delight in the smiles of your children or the children of others. Help them learn how to explore their world, revel in nature and learn to dance. Cherish every moment, watch your sleeping babies, pour out love. Always pour out love. Be like Tara.
As someone who knew Tara only through Facebook, I can recognize all the ways in which she lit up the world. Your advice to your daughters is beautiful and valid. We should all strive to be like Tara. Thank you for sharing the parts of her you knew. I am very sorry for the loss of your friend, and mine.
Oh, Joy. Just now reading this. So sad and beautiful and bittersweet…..