Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Words of remembrance








It is hard to believe that it has been nearly five months since Linda has passed.  In some ways it seems like it was just last week that we were laughing, taking walks, and doing our best to enjoy life. In other ways it feels like I have not had my best friend/soul sister to talk to, in a painfully long time. With Linda's example of perseverance and strength, we are all putting one foot in front of the other.  I am often asked how everyone is doing, especially Vic and the kids.  Well, this is certainly not easy for them, the loss of Linda is devastating to all of us, especially Vic and the kids, but I think it is safe to say that they are doing ok.  Linda was the most amazing momma I know, providing her children with the strong foundation they need to adjust to their new normal.  Vic is proving to be an awesome father amid the most difficult circumstances.  Linda is no doubt looking down on him with much pride.

Linda's services were beautiful.  At the funeral home, the continuous line of people that Linda's life touched is a testament to the impact she had on the world.  Linda's final wishes ensured that her special touch could be seen, felt, and heard, throughout her funeral mass.  The church was decorated with flowers from her own beautiful garden.  Linda asked that all of her scarves be adorned on the pews and left to be taken home by her loved ones.  Although she had enough scarves to fill both sides of the center aisle of St. Cecilia's Church from front to back, I know that Linda did not expect the enormous church to be standing room only.


Linda's brother, Ron, wrote and eloquently delivered a genuine, heart felt, beautiful eulogy, that I suspect did not leave a dry eye in the house.  Vic, Linda's parents, and I thought it would be nice to share his words on Linda's blog.



Ron's Words of Remembrance

We've all read Linda's writings.... usually in the first person... Linda sharing her challenges, her successes, her struggles, her life with all of us. We marveled at her strength, admired her will to battle, and stood in awe of her tenacity to keep moving forward. I'm sure, like me, you all have your own admirations for her and how she was able to do it all, both mentally and physically.

I'm hoping to give you an even deeper perspective. I have 'known' Linda my whole life of course. That makes 43years... 43 years having her as my big sister. I've had a lot of time to try to understand a great deal about our relationship, what it has meant to me, and what kind of impact it had on each of us. Throughout the years, Linda and I had been close... never really finding reasons not to be. Yes, we had arguments and I aggravated the heck out of her at times - I like to think that I'd helped her sense of humor along the way... 

I'll never forget the day in December 2011, when Linda was first diagnosed with the Big C..... as she chose to call it. Like Linda and the rest of the family, I was in shock, uncertain of what was to come and emotionally overwhelmed. I wouldn't believe that this was happening to someone so close to me. Progressively, through the strength of Linda's OWN words and actions, we... our family... our extended family of relatives and friends... saw light at the end of the tunnel. Linda herself would encourage US that she could conquer this. I just looked for ways to be supportive and follow HER lead in the battle. She fought amazingly and rid the junk that had entered her body. 

Just like that first time... when I found out in June 2015, that after some time being in remission, it was back... my heart dropped. I remember Linda being concerned at the possibility as strange symptoms were coming on...we talked on the phone about it as she canceled her plans to attend a concert with me and our friends.... then hearing the awful news days later, I couldn't stop crying for her. These moments, these hours, these days... so vivid STILL in my mind. 


With this diagnosis, more difficult than even the first, maybe you would crawl under a rock... maybe you throw in the towel... maybe you have continuous fits of rage... It's likely Linda had all of these thoughts then and even recently, but she more than embraced the positives - her husband, her children, her family, her friends... the many things in life that were once ordinary, but she has helped us all to realize... are extraordinary. She had learned to live in the moment... smile on the days she felt good...draw strength and have hope on the days she didn't.   

mention her will and her hope... and to say how great she
was
with her kids.... and hower husband, Victor, and her
best friend, Shanno
n, are amazing
human beings
... and how mom and dad selflessly
did
so much for them... and
especially how through all of her troubles and stress, she
found
the st
rength to be outwardly positive... and to live her
new normal
like it really was normal
.
Though
amazing in its own right, a
ll of
this I've said
is probably old news to most of
you
. You've read
Linda's
writings
;
you've had your interactions;
you've heard the stories. You
could
see her strength
and determination along the way
.
I've read your comments of support and hope and your admirations at her
will
and
optimism
. All of these thoughts and
feelings of her are so true
and truly admirable standing on their own
.
But her legacy goes beyond that. Over the past
several month
s, it has been clear to me
that there is something deeper than this
... that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Recently
, I've had some personal issues of my
own
.
I don't begin to think that my issues are even
close to
what Linda
was
battling, but
it hel
ps to understand her impact
...
I was going through some
surreal times in my
own
life. I will say
that the emotional roller coaster was never ending. The ups and downs that
any
of us
endure with personal struggles is
comparable
in a sense
and we seek out
comfort from those we trust the most.
I confided in Linda as many of you might
have.
I spent a good amount of time chatting with Linda
on walks..
.
on her couch... at her dinner table
.
This time
with
Linda
in the last 7 months is
time I'll cherish
forever.

For the past couple of years, if friends would ask how Linda was doing, I would give the progress update and proceed to mention her will and her hope... and to say how great she was with her kids.... and how her husband, Victor, and her best friend, Shannon, are amazing human beings ... and how mom and dad selflessly did so much for them... and especially how through all of her troubles and stress, she found the strength to be outwardly positive... and to live her new normal like it really was normal.

Though amazing in its own right, all of this I've said is probably old news to most of you. You've read Linda's writings; you've had your interactions; you've heard the stories. You could see her strength and determination along the way. I've read your comments of support and hope and your admirations at her will and optimism. All of these thoughts and feelings of her are so true and truly admirable standing on their own. But her legacy goes beyond that. Over the past several months, it has been clear to me that there is something deeper than this ... that this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Recently, I've had some personal issues of my own. I don't begin to think that my issues are even close to what Linda was battling, but it helps to understand her impact... I was going through some surreal times in my own life. I will say that the emotional roller coaster was never ending. The ups and downs that any of us endure with personal struggles is comparable in a sense and we seek out comfort from those we trust the most. I confided in Linda as many of you might
have. I spent a good amount of time chatting with Linda on walks...on her couch...at her dinner table. This time with Linda in the last 7 months is time I'll cherish forever.

Often times with these personal struggles, we ask ourselves this question:  Why Me?  I'm sure this is something Linda asked herself often. This battle...this war she was dealing with I would not wish upon anyone and there has to be a reason it was Linda. 


Why Me?  There are some that will never be able to answer that question because they are stuck just feeling sorry, having regret, and dwelling on the negatives. 


Why Linda? 

Linda had always had a knack for helping others. She was the oldest of three siblings and always tried to steer my brother Jeff and I in the right direction. She became a teacher to countless endearing children, always making their growth her priority...Always willing to give and to provide to others...A kind, caring, and loving mom, wife, sister, daughter, grand - daughter, niece, cousin, colleague and friend. 


Even during her toughest days, she thought to buy flowers for Mom's birthday... and to run out for presents for Jordan's birthday and my birthday...and to get gifts for all the fathers in her life on Father's Day...and to make sure everyone ELSE was ok. 


Why Linda?  Well, maybe Linda...because she would not only have the strength to fight ...and the courage to carry on...and the hope to see better times ahead for herself, but because she could do ALL of that and still teach...still help OTHERS see the positives...and have the hope....and to see the light at the end of THEIR dark tunnels. 


When you are faced with a challenge, you have 2 choices: you can rise up to it...or you can back down and crumble. Over these last several months, Linda has TAUGHT ME to embrace the positives... to look at a challenge as an opportunity to prove yourself once again. We can dwell on the past. We could be immersed with regret. We could ​continue with the constant 'why me?'. Those have been my challenges... they were certainly her challenges...It's how we face these challenges, however, to move on and learn from them that counts. Linda always looked to take those steps forward...overcome those hurdles. 

If we can’t go back in time to prevent these issues, we know we have to channel them positively from the way we SEE them to the way we HANDLE them... and handle them she did... with unmatched grace. It is easier for us to feel resentment with all the bad going on than to do something about it.  Life is very short to not move forward no matter what your obstacles. She taught me that we need to live our lives and enjoy it as much as we can. There are ALWAYS positives: I've seen first hand even more over the last several months that Linda's husband and kids are amazing, that our mom and dad and her best friend and the rest of our family and friends are constant incredible support....   Linda had continuously reminded me of my own three great boys, and my hard earned career, and my good health, and my supportive family and my many great friends. That there is plenty to be thankful for no matter what your struggle. We can all reflect on this and find our positives no matter what your situation is. 


So, here it is... my big sister, who was suffering from a debilitating illness... whose struggles were far bigger than many of ours.... whose 'normal' was very different than what it ever was ... is teaching me how to live... how to enjoy what I have... how to put one foot in front of the other again. 

So Why Linda?  


Well... maybe because...as she fought her own battle for her husband and children ... and as she tried to smile for my mom and dad...and as she attempted to keep things as consistent as possible under the most excruciating ever- changing circumstances, she could STILL teach me...teach all of us... all very powerful life lessons...and because her own struggles were so devastatingly real, those lessons.... those messages... those actions....were that much more impactful. 




So now, what would Linda want each of you... each of us... to learn from her today?  Because I'm fairly certain she won't ever stop teaching... what words of wisdom would she want us to carry on with?

To all of her family, her friends, her acquaintances:  an act of kindness goes a long way.  From the hundreds upon hundreds of greeting cards, to the flowers, to the balloons, to the meals provided, to the leaps, to the many gifts... there were and still are so many signs in the Sousa home of support, hope and love. Know that these things are appreciated and have meant so much. Linda would surely want you to know this...and to know that you need to continue to take care of each other and to continue to think of others.  Life is too precious and too short.

Jeff  - I know this too well... Linda would put her brothers on a pedestal.  She has always told us how proud she is of Jeff and I . So Jeff, what can we learn from this? Certainly that life is very delicate. Continue to be the person you are, do the things you love, and spend time with the people that matter most. Continue to be kind, caring, and loving. Continue to believe that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do. Continue to take care of Mom and Dad like they've taken care of all of us.  Move forward... one step at a time.

To Mom and Dad: the dynamic duo. Linda for sure would say that her thinking of others first comes from the both of you.  It would be the very rare occasion, if ever, that either of you would put yourself before anyone else. You are always the ones taking care of others, making sure everyone else is ok...  Mom, Dad... thank you for being the shoulders to cry on, the ears to listen, the arms to lift me, and the voice of hope. You were always there for me, for Ronnie, and for Jeff. Nobody is perfect, but you certainly are close. Now, what would make me happy? .... what would make me happy is if you found some time for yourselves- take advantage of retirement, smell the flowers, enjoy camping, play with your grandkids.   Stay Strong like the Rocks you have always been for me. Don't stop living.


To Victor. This came way sooner than anyone ever would have imagined. It has to be the hardest thing in the world to watch the one you love go through so much suffering and to feel so much pain yourself, but to show your strength to everyone on the outside.  The calmness and comfort you have always provided, and especially through these most painful times has been such an important piece to this battle.  You are a good man, Victor... a good husband, a good son, a good brother, a good uncle, a good father...  Continue to be that man. I know you'll take care of the children just fine.  And please be happy, smile a lot, and laugh - it is great when you laugh... infectious when you laugh.


Evan and Kaia ... well, what can I say.  You are the true miracles that made Mommy's life complete.  Do not ever stop challenging yourselves.  Keep reaching for the stars. Continue to make Mommy proud.  You are both destined for great things.  Be respectful to your dad, your relatives especially your Uncle Ron, and your teachers. Be kind to your friends and all those you meet.Work hard at everything you do. Mommy loves you more than anything in the world and will continue to look over you every minute of every day.

Friendship....  friendship is a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. The general traits of a friendship include similar interests, mutual respect and an attachment to each other. The emotional safety provided by friendship means not having to weigh your thoughts or measure your words.
True friendship is when someone knows you better than yourself and takes a position in your best interests in a crisis. Friendship goes beyond just sharing time together, and it is long lasting and even forever. Shannon, you are an unbelievable person, a trusted companion, a true friend. You will always be considered a member of our family. You have sacrificed so much for us. Please take some much needed time to be with your husband and your children and to get back to your own passions. You deserve that time for yourself.


One of my Memeres used to say that there is never anything so bad that something good can't come out of it. Memere, memere...
this is an extremely tough one to justify, but here it is...

Linda was chosen.             .  

Linda was chosen to teach us....to teach me... to teach all of you...

to  appreciate more,.....to laugh louder,....to love stronger,.... to live better, .... to think positively,....  to always be kind .... It is our responsibility now to carry these lessons on with us and pass them on to others along the way.  

Linda, we all love you and thank you for your guidance. Either directly or indirectly, you have made such an impact on so many people's lives. Your legacy is far reaching... so far reaching.  

You are forever in our minds, Linda ... you are forever in our
hearts. I love you my sister.






"The living owe it to those who no longer speak to tell their story of them."


-Czeslaw Milosz






1 comment:

Katie Fortier said...

This made me cry at Linda's funeral and again just now. Beautiful words. Thinking of you all as you navigate these first holidays without Linda. She sure was someone special.