In Memory of Ann (Recipe for Life)

Photo courtesy of my friend, Heather Morrow, from Hocus Focus Photo.

You’ll have to excuse me for this one post, as there is nothing food related involved.

You may remember a post I wrote last September about my friend Ann and her heart touching vow renewal ceremony with her husband, Hal, of 10 years. Ann, if you will recall, had been facing a brave battle with cancer for the past 9 years. This past Saturday, July 17th, Ann was taken from our world and is now in heaven, I am sure relieved to be rid of the illness that has been inflicting her body for the past 9 years.

This past Wednesday evening was her visitation. Instead of getting a babysitter, my husband and I decided to split up. He’d go first, come back home to watch the kids, and then I would go. As I was standing in the long line, a true testament to how much Ann was loved, I started to get frustrated with myself. “I should have just gotten a babysitter. I want my husband with me. This is not the kind of thing anyone should have to do alone.” Even though I was surrounded by friends, I wanted Nick, my rock, with me more than anything.

As I got closer to the front of the line where Hal was standing, I looked up and noticed him, standing all by himself, accepting the condolences of friends and loved ones. “This is not the kind of thing anyone should have to do alone.” His plus one, his shoulder to lean on, his best friend, his parenting ally… his person who should be doing this type of thing with him is gone. It just isn’t right.

Watching Hal and Ann over the past nine years, as they have faced cancer head on, has been one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. As I reflect back on what Ann and Hal have taught me through their example of faith and love, there are a few key things that I will take away from having the honor of knowing Ann.

  • Always have faith. Always. Ann’s faith in God through her battle with cancer has been unrelenting. With every dose of suffering, she accepted it and gave it all up to God. If you want to be touched forever by her incredible faith, all you have to do is go to the final blog post she was able to write on July 4th, 2010.
  • Value your friendships. Ann was always one of those people who truly made time for her friends. Even though she was feeling crappy. Even though she may not have been up for it. Ann knew the value of friendship and made her friends a priority in her life. It was witnessed yesterday in the rows and rows and rows of pews filled with people mourning her death at the funeral. From her closest of friends in the front row, to those of us who were lucky enough to call her a friend scattered throughout the church, there is not a single person who knew Ann who won’t say that watching what unfolded over the past 9 years was not a true testament to the value of friendship.
  • Be real. Ann was about as real and authentic as it gets. She didn’t try to be someone else. She didn’t mince her feelings. She was real, honest and raw.
  • Be courageous. In the face of death, she showed an incredible amount of courage. In the face of cancer, she showed an incredible amount of courage. Many times, we’d all wonder, “how can she be so strong?”, but she was. She was one of the most courageous women I have ever met and I will forever be reminded of her strength, especially when I am feeling whiny and pathetic.
  • Have fun. Ann turned shaving her head into a big party and then transformed herself into “Foxy Roxy” with her pink wig. Her laugh was infectious. There is no doubt that Ann knew how to have fun. Sometimes, attitude is everything, and Ann proved that to be true each and every day.

I hope that, even though many of you didn’t know Ann, you will take a look through her blog and be touched by her faith, courage and love. She will be deeply missed but always remembered.

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Comments

  1. says

    Powerful. Your writing is beyond formidable and you are an amazing woman and friend Kristin. What a lovely tribute to Ann. Our thoughts are with her family.
    Thank you for this. xoxo

  2. says

    This hits very close to home, as I just lost my dear cousin to cancer, after her courageous 10-year battle. I read Ann’s last blog post and that, too, had similarities. Pauline spoke of the angels more and more in her final weeks, and would get very excited, in a peaceful sort of way. God was definitely preparing her (and all of us!) for her journey to Him. Her faith was inspiration for us all.

    What a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing.

  3. says

    This is a beautiful post, Kristen. I read some of Ann’s blog, and it was full of heartbreaking strength and faith. I wish I could envelop her family in a bubble of love & peace, but I’m pretty sure she’s done that already :) Earlier this year, one of my friends lost her 14-year-old daughter to cancer. While Ally was only with us a short time, her life, love, strength and courage was a beacon to many—she truly taught us how to live. It is awe-inspiring, how tragic circumstances can bring out the best in people, and I’m glad to see some of Ann’s life lessons highlighted here. Hugs, my friend! Your tribute to her is a lovely gift.

  4. Farrah says

    This was my absolute favorite of all of Ann’s pictures ever. It was the one that brought tears to my eyes. This picture is all encompassing with laughter, joy, love, life and hope. Thank you for posting this Kristen. Thank you for your beautiful words for our dear friend. She is a treasure to be shared always. She leaves such a legacy of faith and friendship.

  5. kathi says

    after reading about ann’s passing, i took a long walk in the wood’s and thought about her bravery. i wondered why. i prayed for you as you mourn. losing a friend can be so surreal. i lost a wonderful friend early this spring , i can’t call her but strangely feel that she is still listening. xo kathi

  6. says

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I know losing such a good friend like Ann was very hard. My thoughts are with you, but I know your words and writing of this blog are being heard by her. Truly touching!

  7. says

    Kristen – this is a beautiful tribute to your friend and to friendship in general. I’m truly sorry for your loss. :( We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the death of a very good friend of ours – she also died from cancer and my heart aches for you and anyone else who’s lost a loved one to this horrible disease.

  8. Anna says

    Very well put. That is a wonderful recipe for life! I too learned so much from Ann and feel blessed to have known her. I look forward to seeing her again through her girls.

  9. Annette Friesen says

    I am not a daily visitor, more like once a month to your website. I was scanning the web tonight to try and take my mind off a deep family crisis of another kind, not cancer of the body, but a cancer of the soul in our youngest adopted daughter who is choosing paths not to be taken. As it breaks my heart to watch her make such poor decisions, I read this post with an awareness that I cannot let my grief for my loss keep me from living each day as a gift. I am not sure what that will look like as I consider how to wisely respond to her, but for now, this has been a help. Ann’s life, like another friend of mine that died young with cancer, has helped me to remember there are those who love deeply and fully here on earth.

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