I used to work with Anna at a children's charity in Toronto. We started around the same time and bonded over yoga, fitness and health. She was a tireless Senior Policy Advisor who went on to be the National Foundation's Director at Soros Foundation Kazakhstan.
|"In our memories Anna will always remain young,|
energetic, generous and full of new ideas"
Soros Foundation Kazakhstan
I love what her last employer wrote, "we admire the strength of her spirit and dedication to the ideals of open society. Anna had an acute sense of justice, empathy and belief in our ability to change the world for the better. Her passion and incredible diligence always filled us with energy and enthusiasm."
When I found out she had died, it really shook me. And for some weird reason, deaths don't usually effect me too much. I hadn't communicated much with her, other than on Facebook. Maybe I am just getting older, and now that I have more to lose, fear my own death.
|Jenna and her family|
It just makes me so sad to loose such bright lights in this world - we need every single one.
I know all too well the effort women like these go through to get to the sweet age of 35. All the years since so young putting effort in to making oneself beautiful, presentable, knowledgeable to the world. Then using their energy to help others and make the world a better place.
It seems like these special ladies were just hitting their stride, and blam. Gone. Did they ever get a chance to really relax and reap the rewards? Anna worked up until her last days. She probably thought she didn't do enough. But I know everyone else was proud of her and thought she did more than enough in her short life.
For the months following Anna's death, my thoughts kept turning back to her. I kept seeing Anna in my baby daughter's wide-set blue eyes and wide smile.
As a mother, I couldn't help feeling compassion for Anna's mother for loosing her daughter. For her husband for loosing his partner.
I also couldn't help thinking about my own untimely death should I die soon. I remember nights of singing my son to sleep and seeing Anna clearly pop into my head. I thought it may be a sign I might get cancer and die soon. And it made me really appreciate the sweet moments I have with my kids. Though, made me deeply sad to think they would loose their mom so young, and I wouldn't be able to share so many other precious memories with them.
Lately, I spend less energy consumed by the thoughts of my possible untimely death. I don't want to feed that thought too much. I think it was just my way of processing, grieving, and acknowledging. I do try to stay aware of the reality of impermanence, and acknowledged daily that death can happen any moment.
Buddhist practicioners meditate on death to prepare one for the passage, and to lessen the affect of attachment to this world. They believe it is important to think about the reality of one's death everyday so as to appreciate one's life and to prepare for the event.
I am grateful for the renewed awareness of death. Death is a powerful force. It can bring communities together. It generates compassion from mere strangers.
Death can be used as a tool for self awakening, and as a means of connecting with others. We are all one. We never die.