a note from her family

Ana would like this. This church was one of her favorite places, and she loved it when all us of got together. Here we are, all of you she knew and loved in one place. She would’ve liked this a lot.

As a family we are heartbroken, but not for the reason you might think.  Of course we are sad, how could we not be?  But like you, we knew Ana and were blessed with her energy and excitement for life.  We were beneficiaries of her creativity and wit.  As with many of you, we felt her unbounded love and feel comforted with that thought.  No, we are heartbroken for those who will not know Ana.  They will not have their spirit lifted by her smile.  They will not be consumed by her quiet inspiration or her intrepid strength.  That’s a shame.

 A while back Ana expressed sadness to me that she had not left a legacy.  She said, “I wanted to be someone others would remember and look up to.”  I said something any father would say like “We will always remember you.”  “I know that, “ she said.  “You’re my family, of course you will.  I mean, most people will let me fade away.”

We are all part of her legacy.  She left us with stories and moments we shared together.  She would like it if we keep sharing those stories with each other and anyone else within earshot.  And we can live the ideals she demonstrated and taught us. 

There are images burnt into our minds that are so striking you can feel like she’s right here.  Like every time I walk a beach or hear an island rhythm, I will remember Ana’s aquamarine eyes and how at one moment they would sparkle with fun, and another they would reflect the brilliance lying behind them.  Every time I look up to a bright sun shining, I remember that smile and the way it lit up any room she entered.  Every time I write a sentence, I’ll remember her admonishment to make sure every word left an impression and no word should be wasted.  Or every time I feel tired or bored I’ll remember how she expressed appreciation and thrill over simple moments; a cool breeze on a hot day, a new bud on a plant, flowers from Chris or a quizzical look from her dog Bedford.  Ana is easy to remember.

Ana was interested in something else, how to live and become a better person.  Ana was passionate about how we treat each other including strangers.  She always wanted to feel alive and capture moments of life even if painful.  She also wanted to be sure we nurtured those around us whether it was people or animals.

Even as a child Ana worried about her classmates and later expressed confusion about why people didn’t treat each other better.  “Strangers are only strange because we don’t know them,” she said.  So when we are walking down the street and come upon a stranger rather than walking on without acknowledging them (as we mostly do), we could ask what Ana would have us do.  We could celebrate and honor her by greeting them, and show they are worthwhile to us.  It takes a lot of effort and strength like Ana showed.

When we see a stray animal.  Ask yourself what Ana would have us do.  She would find a home for them as she and Chris actually did for a dog found on the street scared and alone.

When a friend is troubled or uncertain about the future.  What would Ana have us do?  She would listen intensely, not just to hear the problem, but let her friend know they were not alone.

When we feel pain or disinterest whether mental or physical, what would Ana have us do?  She would find a way to treat the pain but not to the point of dulling her senses.  She didn’t want to miss a second of life.  Part of song lyrics I heard yesterday from the Lumineers reminded me of Ana: “It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all.  The opposite of love's indifference.  So pay attention now...”

For those who knew Ana well know what I mean.  Asking what Ana would do will make us better people.  So when you think about what to do after this celebration and tomorrow and the next day; Ana would have you share a smile until your face hurts, don’t miss a moment of life, live without complaint and certainly never miss a chance to love. 

That is how Ana lived.