Remembering a Remarkable Woman

How do you put into words the loss of a truly great person? I have no earthly idea, but I've always used writing as a form of release and now, buried in grief, I turn to it again.  A week and a half ago I was standing in my parents kitchen with one of my best friends, her sister, niece, and a woman I have known, respected, and loved for more than 18 years- Colette Abbott, my best friend's mom.  She finally got to meet my baby boy, whom she had doted on from afar with gifts and sweet comments. We were all smiling and laughing and everything was fine.  The next day she was a beautiful, glowing mother of the bride at my best friends bridal shower.  Always smiling, always the perfect hostess and entertainer.  Always genuinely loving and living life to the fullest.  Never wasting time on negativity, but instead building others up like no one I've ever known. 
A few days later I was struck with disbelief when I learned of her cancer diagnosis, but still my friends and I stayed positive.  We would send a gift basket to entertain Colette after her surgery, which was scheduled for a couple weeks later. I would be in town for good a couple weeks after that and could offer any form of support the family needed.  Now, a week after that seemingly earth-quivering announcement, I'm lying here trying to cope with her sudden death.  And if I feel like this, how on earth does my best friend and her beautiful family feel? 

Sometimes death sneaks in slowly and warns of its imminent arrival.  Other times it is swift and brutally abrupt and all are left standing in its path of destruction wondering how on earth we ended up here.  My heart is truly broken.

Colette had an uncanny ability to make everyone feel welcome and at home.  I remember endless days spent at the Abbott house, comfortably sinking into the leather sofa to watch TV and eat our weight in junk food.  Colette was involved in everything, a beautiful, incredibly fit marathon runner, but she could veg out on the couch with the best of us and I loved knowing her cozy mom-side.

She made amazing pancakes.  So many Saturday mornings were spent around the island in the kitchen, talking about all the drama that exists in the lives of teenage girls.  She always listened, never judged, and made me feel like one of her own daughters.

She loved ice cream. My favorite memories with Colette have to include the time I spent with her on Nantucket and countless trips to the Juice Bar to load up on late night ice cream treats.   As a 12 year old being exposed to island life for the first time, as a 21 year old when she drove our getaway car after Amy and I tried to get a deposit back from an evil landlord, as a 27 year old with a baby on the way, welcoming us into her beautiful home and letting us once again, make it our own.

I remember the day Colette got her first VW green bug and picked us all up from middle school.  Have you ever seen 5 girls (were there more?) pile into a bug? We squeezed our way in and Colette beamed with pride, loving the times when all of us girls were together.

I genuinely believe that everyone that knew her, was a better person for it.  She was truly one of a kind and it's not lost on me, just how lucky we were to have her as a beautiful role model in life.  Her laugh was infectious.  And her smile was unstoppable.  She was goofy and shy, powerful and caring, determined and always optimistic.  She gave generously, loved fiercely, and absolutely nothing in this world can replace her spirit. I know I will see her again one day, but until then, I'm going to try to live each day more like she did. Hell, maybe I'll even take up running.


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