Celebrating Colleen

Last week I wrote a post about saying goodbye to an amazing Lady. It was healing. It was something I could do, and I think it helped me flesh out who she was/is to me, and, it turns out, who she was to so, so, many people. Up until last Tuesday my highest amount of views on my blog had been 476 in one day. That was for my post on finishing the whole 30. On Tuesday night I looked at my stats, as I always do, there were over 2500 views in one day!!! That was all Colleen. Her touch reached far. Even meeting her once, you were immediately drawn to her and she left a positive impression.

Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days. All of Colleen’s friends and family came together (physically and in spirit) to celebrate a great woman. A woman who always saw your true potential even when you couldn’t. A woman who enjoyed and loved life with abandon, as she loved us all. A woman who’s greatest lives were her children, her husband, her family, her friends, music and the arts.

Yesterday, prior to leaving for Colleen’s celebration, I sat overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings. I had to write some down and I had to just feel them.this is what I wrote:

“Hey Chicky!” “Hi there sexy momma” “There’s my girl!” No matter what context our meeting held: bumping into each other at the store, market, coffee shop, restaurant, or school, meeting at her home, my home or the park, Colleen always had a warm and joyful greeting. It was always kind, sincere and truly genuine. That was Colleen. I always felt special and known when I was with her. Her affection for those dear to her was always evident and fully expressed. The effect she had on the people around her was immeasurable. 

Colleen was genuine; filled with intention, passion for life, love, kindness, joy and sparkle. Her wink could could mean a million words, her twinkle in her eyes was was a priceless treasure to behold. The way her voice accelerated higher in speed, pitch and volume as she got more and more excited telling a story, her inflection and soft gravel of her voice are all sounds I’ve had playing in my ears this week. She was beyond expressive. She gave me a run for my money in the chatting category. I loved it. We could talk for hours and never be tired.

Colleen’s brand of moral support was a very rare one. No one could match it. She made an effort to see every show I was in. She encouraged me to to apply for jobs I never would have aimed for. She always cheered me on in every endeavor (as she did all her friends.)  If you counted Colleen a friend you counted yourself supported. She cheered on my kids and always made the effort to include them. Boy#1 and her son were only six months apart and in the same grade. Last year they were in the same class and she would visit and we’d talk about our boys being rambunctious, smart, crazy. She would always encourage me when I felt Boy#1 was going crazy and possibly going to give his poor teacher a nervous breakdown. She always had his back, and mine. 

Colleen’s last texts to me were:

C: “Are you in a new play?” (I’d posted a picture of rehearsal on Facebook)

Me: “Yup!”

C: “Awesome!”

C: “I can’t wait to see it”

That was the last thing she wrote me. “I can’t wait to see it.” Even when she knew she most likely would not be here. But then Colleen was no stranger to beating the odds. She had done it many times before. She always looked for the positive, even when she was being starkly realistic and discussing her fears of leaving her family, she would bring in this positivity. It was an amazing trait.

I know that March 23rd, on the opening night of the play, while I’m getting ready to go on stage, Colleen will have the best seat in the house. She will be cheering us on and smiling and laughing her fabulous laugh. I know I will hear her. My performance will be dedicated to her each night. Knowing she’s there, cheering me on, cheering us all on, makes this better. Her spirit will never really leave us. 

Colleen loved the arts. Theatre, music, anything created by Ivy, Al, or her friends and family. She was the champion of artists, especially her own. Yesterday at her celebration that was most evident. Music and art cascaded out of the hearts, souls, and fingers of her nearest and dearest. Bringing joy and mirth. I walked out of the hall feeling bouyedto the strains of “Happy”. It was fitting, even as I exited with red eyes. 

Colleen cared for everyone. Her care was unlike any other. She was always there for me with my second baby, after he’d been up with colic all night and I was exhausted, I’d open the door to a coffee, a muffin and a hug. Sometimes it was just the coffee and a muffin after a text saying “look out your door”.  When she knew Hubs and I were going through a tough time she would message me for a chat, a coffee, wine, a treat. She was always there. I’d come outside to see a bag of clothes on my doorstep, open up messanger to see “I have a dress for you here, and pants for the boys”. She cared more than most would. She thought of me even when she was the one who needed the care. 

Yesterday while I was preparing to leave and writing all that down, Hubs starts singing “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone”. That line “you’re gonna miss me by my hair, you’re gonna miss me everywhere, you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone” had me crying. I am going to miss her by her hair. That’s how we met. I cut her hair. And even when we were both super busy, a haircut would bring us together. I’m going to miss that wild untamed mane of gorgeous silver. She rocked it well. Always had a new idea for it, an idea I’d agree to and then we’d both remember why her hair was short and why it stayed short. That hair. She called it her brillopad. I loved it.

I’m going to miss her while she’s gone. Yesterday these gorgeous programs were given out. I took one. They were beautiful. Songs and poems and Colleen. Boy#1 had initially refused to come yesterday, I think he felt shy. Hubs brought him near the end to hear that his new favourite band, (seven years old and his new favourite band is KISS! Love this kid) was also one of Colleen’s. Boy#1 picked up a program and held it to him. He took it out to dinner last night. “I’m going to keep this forever mom. It’s so nice” later on “Where is my Colleen book!!?”  There you go Colleen. His Colleen book is his newest treasure. Famous as ever, she keeps connecting with us.

I’m finishing up now, promise. After last week’s post I was trying to find a picture of us. I could not. I felt like such a failure. If anyone has a picture of Colleen and I together I would love to have it. I want to be able to put it in a frame. 

Last thing. The last play Colleen saw me in was Steel Magnolias at the Livery. My dear friend, who was also friends with Colleen, Leigh Ann, played M’lynn and I played Anelle. In the final scene M’lynn is mourning her daughter Shelby’s passing and Anelle says something a bit heartless about needing to be happy for Shelby now that she was in heaven. M’lynn retaliates with “Well I’d rather have her here!!” The following was the line I said as Anelle in response to that: 

“I think in Shelby‟s case, she wanted to take care of that baby, of you, of everybody she knew… and her poor body was just worn out. It wouldn‟t let her do everything she wanted to do. So she went to on to a place where she could be a guardian angel. She will always be young. She will always be beautiful. And I personally feel much safer knowing she‟s up there on my side. I know some people might think that sounds real simple and stupid… and maybe I am. But that’s how I get through things like this.”

Thank you Anelle for summing that up for me. 

I love you Colleen. Thanks for the party. And thank you for introducing me to all of your gorgeous friends. You opened up my life. Be free, fly and thank you for all the light.


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10 thoughts on “Celebrating Colleen

  1. sweet words Courtney…again you have found the words that have escaped me these past few weeks. We are lucky for having known her…and ya you are my friend because of Colleen. I will be back for haircut, a coffee and a muffin and a good long chat one day soon.

    1. I love that she introduced us!! I’m so glad to be able to have known the effect she has had on my life and so many others. Hugs gorgeous.

  2. Although I was not one of Colleens closets friends , we always seem to be best buds when we saw each other. Think it is about 20 years , I met her thro Margery Holmes. . I drove in and out of the parking lot twice before I could actually park my and go into the celebration . I’m so thankful I did. It was a beautiful send off to a beautiful woman .

    1. Agreed!! It didn’t matter how long, short, close or from afar you knew her, she was always close when you were together. Love this. And I’m so glad you came too!

  3. beautiful words for a beautiful person

    1. I try. Nothing could completely encapsulate her. She was too great

  4. Thanks C, that was beautiful.

  5. Courtney , what a beautiful testament to your friend Colleen. She sounds like she was an amazing person. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I can totally relate to your post today. I have been staying in Guelph this past week with a longtime friend who lost her husband a month ago in a car accident…life interrupted as they say. My friend is in such pain and her girls who I have known all of their lives are reeling from this tragic loss. It does bring a measure of comfort to be close by to help them carry the burden of grief, this makes me so aware that each and every day is to be lived to its fullest. It’s just too bad it takes a loss of this magnitude to guide us to this realization.
    Hugs to you and Daryle and the boys.
    Aunt Sue

    1. Thank you Auntie Sue. What a tough situation. All you can do is be there. My heart goes out to you, your friend and her children. What a very hard time. Much much love to you all! XOXOXO

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