I’ve had a few people ask me to send them the eulogy I read at my mom’s funeral last week, so I thought I’d share it with everyone in hopes that we can all remember how truly amazing she was:

Many people say that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I think it’s safe to say that in this situation, that is not the case. We didn’t have to wait until my mom left us to recognize her extraordinary faith, genuine charm, breathtaking beauty, and selfless heart. My mom’s ability to light up her patients’ classrooms, our home, her offices, and her church was undeniable. Everywhere she went, she was easy to love. Not just because she was so incredibly pretty to look at and easy to talk to, but because her number one motivation and joy in life was her relationship with God. With a faith so strong, God’s light could be seen through her without her even needing to mention His name…though she did that often, too. Even during the last weeks, as we watched the unthinkable unfold before us, my mom’s unending belief in God’s unfailing love gave not only her complete peace, but those of us who love her so dearly. Her faith was her biggest gift to all of us and allows us to celebrate her life in trust she is with her precious Father, rather than mourn a concrete ending.

That being said, my mom’s time here was truly something to celebrate. I could talk about her adventures skiing in Vermont, riding elephants in Sri Lanka, climbing the ancient Pyramids in Egypt and Mount Fuji in Japan, or parasailing in Thailand, but instead I’m going to celebrate the time she spent in life as my and Jim’s mother. And I can say confidently that it was her favorite time in life. Mom said that the moment she held Jim in her arms 26 years ago, she had never been so happy and in love. Twenty-one months later, I arrived and she embraced being the most giving and energetic mother to both of us. Recently, she so beautifully explained to Jim that when you have more than one child, your love does not divide, it multiplies. Her unconditional devotion to raising us as confident and happy children manifested itself in outrageously time consuming homemade birthday cakes, Halloween costumes, and mother/daughter matching dresses on Easter. She was an amazing sewer- she even made my prom dress from scratch.

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Turkey Trot 2011

Fast-forwarding through the terrifying years of raising two teenagers (I don’t know how she still loved us after those ones, but she was a woman of true strength), my brother and I have both been able to get to know my mom as adults in the last few years. Jim and my mom would spend every single Saturday morning that he was home from college, Richmond, or New York together, drinking coffee on the porch and discussing God, life, and, as Jim often reminded me- how to help Shannon survive in the world. She came to New York for Thanksgiving last year and taught Jim’s wife, Lindsay, how to make a Turkey and we all ran the five miler Turkey Trot as a family.  My mom was the only one in good enough shape to not be sore the next day. Jim got married in April, and my mom couldn’t have been prouder as she watched her perfect son marry a woman he loves so deeply. She and Jim took dance lessons to prepare for their dance at the wedding and, through the chemotherapy, exuded radiance as she celebrated in Jim’s happiness.

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Jim’s wedding

In my life, my mom has been my rock. She and I have always been close, and for these 24 years I could not be more grateful. My mom knew my heart in a way no one ever will. For instance, she sent me dog sledding for a week in negative 20 degrees with ten people I’d never met when I was going through my first real heartbreak, teaching me that stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing your limits will always bring life back into perspective. She supported all of my crazy endeavors, from pageantry to horseback riding to musical theatre. My mom had stage fright and she hated horses, yet she came to every single one of my pageants, bought a horse when I was in middle school, and could name most Broadway musicals. Pageants, in particular, she even got really into. I remember always having to hide programs in my house from any pageant friends who would come over because I didn’t want them to see all of the scores my mom would write next to each girl’s picture. I always got 10s. My mom and I talked nearly every single day in my young adulthood, and only my mom will ever actually enjoy listening to me go on and on about my feelings as much as I did. She also loved listening to Jim and I sing more than anyone else in the world. She never got sick of it. We sang to her nonstop the day she passed and eventually sent her off to meet God with our voices.

These 24 years, and 26 for Jim, with the best mother on earth are more valuable than a lifetime with anyone else. We will miss her so, so much. Her times of excitement when she’d practically jump up and down and clap with her giant smile, her times of advice-giving when she’d always end up saying “I just want you to be happy,” her serene face during her daily run through the neighborhood, and her tremendous example of living as a woman of God. But I know she is with Him, celebrating, running on streets paved with gold, and watching over us as one of God’s witnesses.

Proverbs 31:28, The wife of noble character

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

How honored I am to have called Kathy my mom.