Friday, August 4, 2017

A Beautiful Life


Linda Marie (Leclair) Sousa
September 23,1972-July 3,2017


My beautiful, brilliant, sweet, loving, full of life, Soul Sister received her angel wings one month ago on the night of July 3rd with fireworks exploding in the background.

Victor and I thought it was important to post news of Linda’s passing on her blog.  During the past few months, Linda hoped she would be well enough to update everyone in her own words, but she did not get that chance. Unlike Linda, sharing feelings does not come easily to me. I want everyone to know that Linda was a Rock Star long before her illness. She was extraordinary her whole life- those close to her already know this. I refuse to allow Stupid Cancer to take credit for anything good that Linda was.  She was inspirational, strong, kind, insightful, positive, and graceful long before December 2011. Linda spent over three decades filling my bucket. Since we were young girls, whenever I was feeling lost, I could count on Linda to point me in the right direction.  Although she is three weeks younger than me, I have always and will always look up to her.

As we struggle to learn to live life without Linda, knowing that she touched so many lives is a large source of comfort. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to Linda’s family and mine. To honor her, I have humbly attempted to give a glimpse of Linda's beautiful heart from my perspective.




“With life as short as a half taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”
           ~ Rumi
Linda began her life’s journey cherished, protected, and loved by her wonderful family.  She left this Earth with a full and grateful heart, humbly understanding that during her 44 years, she had made a beautiful imprint on more lives than she would ever come to know.  To feel love and to give love was most important in her life.  If measured in love, not in years, Linda led the fullest of lives.



Linda planted love passionately.


Linda loved teaching and became a very well respected and admired educator amongst her colleagues.  She was a fierce advocate for her students.  When Linda’s health forced her to retire from the job she dreamed of as a child, she continued to teach on an even larger scale.  Linda taught us all what courage looks like; what bravery sounds like; what strength feels like.  Linda showed us how to be fully alive in the wake of physical limitations.  Her example of moving forward with happiness, hope, grace, and purpose continues to inspire others to live better lives.


Linda loved to give.  She was always thinking of how to make others happy through her personal touch.  She had a talent for recognizing what others would like and creating her own gifts filled with her special magic.  Linda understood that gifts do not need to be expensive or fancy to touch people’s hearts. It was typical for Linda to bring flowers from her garden in a simple glass jar with a pretty ribbon and hand written tag, to cookouts, parties, or just because. Her hands were always moving. More than once, Linda would put together a special gift for me, right in front of my eyes, without me even knowing it.  Long ago, I stopped asking what she was up to when she was creating. My home and my studio are filled with special, meaningful (many handmade) gifts from Linda. I will treasure every one of them…always.



 

Linda loved photography.  Her unique perspective behind the lens captured nature’s beauty and life’s precious moments.  She preferred candids over posed photos and always caught genuine moments of loved ones and friends.  Family and friends could count on Linda to have her camera at every special event. Others recognized and admired Linda’s talent. She was often asked to photograph weddings, family photos, and other occasions. Lin and Vic’s home is filled with her beautiful photography. Even before she became ill, Linda was aware that every day was a gift.  You can see how she cherished every precious moment through her beautiful photographs.




 


Linda loved nature.  She and Victor spent two decades tending to their beautiful gardens.  Many of their plants, flowers, and shrubs came from the yards of her grandparents or other relatives.  Linda found solace on her front porch where she enjoyed watching birds nest in her hanging plants and following butterflies as they fluttered through her flowers.  She loved the change of the seasons and all of nature’s beauty.



 
Linda loved to go for walks outside with her children, her parents, and her friends.  She enjoyed the fresh air, conversation, and scenes from nature. Walks served as a good stress reliever for her. Linda and I walked together nearly every day for years...sometimes before the sun came up, sometimes very late at night, during snowstorms and rainstorms, sometimes running to prepare for 5Ks she was determined to do, and sometimes holding on to each other for support through life’s darkest times.
 
 
 
Linda loved old things. Antiquing with her mom was one of her favorite things to do. Linda spent years collecting, refurbishing and re-purposing treasures she received from her grandparents or even old gems she found on the side of the road.  She could make a rusty box, a broken ladder, or an old wheelbarrow look like a piece of art.


 


Linda loved her home.  She and Victor built a home filled deeply with love, history, and meaning.  Their home is a masterpiece of warmth and beauty where every corner is filled with Linda’s personal touch.  Linda and Victor made an awesome team. Linda had clever, creative ideas and Victor’s handiness helped make them happen.





Linda loved to write. Shy by nature, Linda bravely shared herself through written language.  She touched countless people through her blog.  She inspired many by exposing her vulnerability in hopes to help others.  She found her blog to be therapeutic as it served as an outlet for her feelings.  Her genuine thoughts are now a precious gift left to her children in her own words.

 


Linda loved music. She loved anything from John Denver to gospel to Sara Bareilles. Sometimes music gave her extra pep in her day and sometimes it helped ease her mind. Her music served as a source of comfort on stressful trips to Dana Farber. Although Linda was not a dancer, she had an ear like a choreographer. My iPod is full of music that Linda would send me for choreography ideas. She always felt proud when I used her suggestions for special pieces.







 
Linda loved God and her church, where generations of her family have gathered to pray, celebrate, and grieve.  Linda, Victor, and the kids attended weekly mass where she found comfort and peace.


Linda loved her friends.  She held her friends close, enjoyed their company, and kept them dear to her heart.  A number of times, Linda expressed to me that until she got sick, she never realized just how many people considered her a friend. She was very touched by the overwhelming support of all of her friends.  The love of Linda's friends helped to lift her in very tough times.






Most of all, Linda loved her family.  Family gatherings with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were the highlights of her childhood.  Linda had a strong sense of where she came from and spoke often of her Memere and Pepere Tetreault and Memere and Pepere LeClair.  Linda had the fondest memories of family vacations to places like Maine and Disney.  As an adult, Linda opened up her home to be the common gathering place for her family. She and Vic hosted cousins, aunts and uncles and other extended family for holidays, birthdays, and summer cookouts.  Linda was fortunate to have a large family that expressed to her how much she meant to them. We often talked about what a blessing it is to know how loved you are.  Linda was very aware of the gift of her family.







Linda loved Victor’s family.  Sunday family dinners were filled with food, drink, laughter, and love.  She respected their strong sense of family and felt honored to be a part of it.  Linda hoped to someday travel to Portugal to meet Victor’s relatives and see where he was born.


Linda loved her nephews.  She embraced each one of them with wonder and joy as they entered the world and then celebrated every milestone with them since.  She made time out of her busy life for them and planned fun, special things to do with them.  There were always fun things to do at Auntie Linda’s house.

Linda loved me and my family.  Not only have Linda and I been through quite a lot together, but our families have as well. Linda often commented that our children acted more like siblings than friends. Long before boyfriends, husbands, children, and selfies, Linda and I began to develop a bond that would grow into something truly beautiful and rare.  Our hearts are connected in a way that I cannot put into words.  We understood each other without the need for language. A few years ago Linda decided that “BFF” was not enough to describe us and she started to call us “Soul Sisters”... I am profoundly grateful for the time we shared here on Earth and I pray that her beautiful soul will be eternally connected with mine.


 

Linda loved being a big sister to her brothers Ron and Jeff.  She was wildly protective of them and was their confidant, adviser and loving friend. Linda thought the world of her brothers and always kept a special place in her heart for them.  Linda was proud of the men they have become and spoke fondly of them to others. She prayed for their happiness and was thankful that Jeff has Michelle and Ronnie has his three boys.




 
 

Linda loved her parents Ron and Jan.  Jan was Linda’s best friend, confidant, and biggest ally.  Linda was painfully shy as a child and often had trouble separating from her mother.  Even as an adult, Linda felt most secure when her mom was nearby.  Linda absolutely adored her father.  At 44 years old, Linda was still very much Daddy’s little girl.  Linda's parents moved into the house next door (which they own) less than a month before she passed. Linda's face lit up anytime her parents’ new living situation was mentioned. She found peace knowing that her mom and dad would now be so close to her and her family. Linda knew that she had the most amazing, wonderful parents. She was beyond grateful for her happy childhood and all the love and support that she had received from her mom and dad for her entire life.
 
 





Linda loved being a mom.  She entered motherhood through much heartache and struggle.  She understood that often times, out of our greatest struggle comes our largest rewards.  Evan and Kaia were by far the largest rewards in Linda’s life.  She selflessly gave her children all of herself.  Linda was profoundly thankful to Evan and Kaia’s birthparents.  Linda understood that through their sacrifice came the greatest gifts that Linda would ever receive.  Linda was immensely proud of E and Little Miss for the bright, beautiful, loving children that they are.  God made Linda the perfect momma for E and Little Miss.










Linda loved her Victor.  He was her rock, her light and her love.  Linda’s love for Victor stood the test of the hardest of times.  During their nearly 21 years of marriage, Victor filled Linda’s heart and gave her closeness, comfort, and security only his love could provide. Despite hardship that no young couple should ever have to endure, Linda and Victor had a happy joyous life filled with much laughter and love.










Linda’s greatest legacy is the lives she touched with her loving, giving heart.  The ripples of her profound influence on others is infinite.  Linda left the Earthly world feeling loved, making others feel loved, and understanding that she made a meaningful, beautiful difference.









"There are those rare moments in life when you are touched by so much love that you begin to realize how beautiful life really is."
~Unknown



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