Thursday, January 4, 2024

Simply the Best

I had known Amelia best through her request off sheets for work and conversations with her mom Maureen. She was outrageously busy with athletics, academic pursuits and clubs, musical engagements (both vocal and instrumental), 4-H competitions, and obligations to her church, community, friends, along with extra tasks taking on at our workplace. She was outstanding and as mentioned at her funeral by her pastor, always running around from one activity to the next. And the thing about Amelia is how she excelled at seemingly every single one of her pursuits. She was an excellent soccer player, skier, student, an award-winning dog trainer, and she played I don't even know how many instruments. One of my favorite moments with her was hearing about a kayaking trip - this trip/route is known to be pretty intense, one that requires kayakers to take a course practicing flipping underwater in order to practice flipping back right-side up because drowning is a risk with the rough waters. When asked how this trip went, Amelia said, "It was fun!" 

After Amelia was diagnosed with cancer, this perseverance and over achievement continued in the most Amelia way - she kept on being herself, graduating high school, completing a semester of college courses from her hospital bed, and living her best life while fighting so hard to beat cancer. She was the most positive person I know, and she always put others first whether she knew you well or just in passing. I still don't know how she did everything she did. As I begin to process her death, I liken her to Alexander Hamilton. The question, "Why do you write like you're running out of time?" reminds me of Amelia's incredible work ethic and talents. What she accomplished in her life is so much

Thoughts of my friend Candice who died unexpectedly came back and again brought back the notion that there are some people that are simply the best. Too good a friend, too good a person, too good for the world. The impact they make is powerful in the short time that they lived. That was Amelia. 

I am most grateful for the time and opportunity to see Amelia every now and then, donate blood, give money to help with expenses, become a match, get together and take photos in the play yards with the dogs, discuss office work that could be done remotely, send cards and care packages, text photos (mostly of the cute daycare and boarding dogs), and as general as a person not part of immediate family and inner circle of loved ones can be, have been there for her and family. I thank the amazing people I work with and Amelia's mom and family who provided many of those opportunities. I hope someday that I will be as thoughtful, active, and willing to take that time out of my day and make the effort. 

With the holidays past and the new year upon me, I keep these lessons from Amelia written by her mom Maureen in mind.

Lessons learned from Amelia

• Be Kind - always. Treat others better than you often treat yourself. 

• Pay it Forward - Being a blood donor helped with her diagnosis. Be a blood &/or platelet donor to help others (Amelia had used 61 units of blood and 65 units of platelets during her treatment). She was very disappointed when she learned her Leukemia would prevent her from being a blood, platelet, tissue or organ donor. Consider being a donor for Be The Match - even though she did not benefit from this, numerous people we met in Houston had.  With every clinical trial she did she wanted them to learn how to make treatment better for the future. 

• Be courageous - Just because it is unknown doesn't mean it has to be feared. This is a quote she used: "As a child, I considered such unknowns as sinister. Now, though, I understand they bear no ill will. The universe is, and we are." 

• Be conscious of your environmental impact. As the saying goes - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. She wanted to have an impact on preventing further damage to our environment.  

• Thrift store shopping can be fun, besides being better for everyone. We had many trips to Goodwill, Plato's Closet and St. Vinny's to find new things to add to our wardrobe. 

• Make time for family and friends. Be present. Memories will be made. 

• Enjoy music - all kinds. Find what moves you. She had said "I love how music can make me cry and just feel everything all at once'.

Amelia was an amazing young woman. Too complex to describe but very simple as well. She was taken to Heaven on day 600 of her Leukemia battle.

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