Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Remembering Clare

“I know my time is limited and I always think to myself when I start to fall really hard, a day of depression is a day lost and what a shame that would be.”
 - Clare Kowaltschuck (on her philosophy of living with cancer)

Clare Kowaltschuck, May 31, 1973 - Jan 8, 2011
 
 
A girl I went to high school with - someone with blonde hair and a shining spirit that touched everyone who crossed her path - is someone I want to talk about today. Although she was not someone I knew very well, I knew her well enough that she and I chatted a few times when we bumped into each other and she always made time for people.

Clare was diagnosed with cancer more than four years ago, while she was pregnant with her first and only child - her son Nathan. From that moment on, she set out to build her legacy and to savour every moment by sharing her passion for life, not only with her family and friends, but with everyone she encountered. Clare refused to let her illness stop her from living. In fact, those fortunate enough to have known her always left her company feeling more alive.

I regret that I never saw Clare while she was ill, but I know she was busy living life to the fullest, travelling the world with her husband Adam and Nathan - creating memories, continuing to shine her light on the world.

Clare, husband Adam and son Nathan on the day they renewed their wedding vows in 2009.


At one point during her valiant battle, a friend asked for stories about Clare to be submitted for a memory book that was being created for her son. As I was not a close friend, but someone who wanted to contribute, my heart pushed me to write a poem for Clare and Nathan as it was this courageous act of building wonderful memories for her son that moved me so - as the mother of boys myself.

Clare passed away on January 8, 2011. I was honoured to be asked (because Clare had requested this) to read my poem at her funeral service along with a close friend of hers.

I share this poem with you, in memory of Clare and the wonderful person and mother she was.




Clare and son Nathan


Lullaby of the Sun
(For Clare & Nathan)



She looks at him…
little hands, her sweet boy
and lives,
and gives
gifts greater than the sea.
They are grand,
they are wondrous,
they are tender from her heart…
she’s a part
of what will make him
her strong, gentle soldier.

And he keeps her from the cold
with his wiggles,
and his giggles…
his wide-eyed smiles
that last for miles…

They embrace her.

He’s her cocoon.

And it’s then quiet,
it is still.
Until…
she opens and unfolds
her colours, her wings,
like songs of butterflies
she always sings.

He reaches up high,
little fingers to the sky,
he needn’t chase…
he knows her grace…
and feels her beam across his face.

And he basks in the warmth
as he knows who it is.
Smiling,
he’s compiling,
the memories…
sweet melodies…
that keep him looking up.

The wind is her song
that will hold him tight
her warm light,
so bright,
he hears her whispers through the night.

It’s her lullaby for him;
like a kiss
against his cheek.
About a son and the sun…
about a boy and his mom.

  - Lora Rossi (May, 2009)



Clare and Nathan enjoying a treat - smiles all around.


To read more about Clare's life and spirit, I encourage you to read this lovely article about her from The Toronto Star (published on January 26, 2011 - shortly after her death).


On September 10th/11th, 2011 a group called The Favourite Ladies & A Few Good Men will be walking 60kms to raise funds for Princess Margaret Hospital. Clare loved the walk and supporting a hospital that helped her so much. Each walker needs to raise a minimum of $2,000 and as a team, they have their sights set on raising $50,000 this year. 
If you care to support this cause please go to www.endcancer.ca and donate to team members that are under $2,000. They will be walking with Clare every step of the way!
Clare and some of her closest friends walk to fight breast cancer and they will do it again this year. Go team!

In closing, I just want to say something that was brought to my attention by my sister-in-law who is an Oncologist. She reminds people that those who pass away from cancer have not "lost their battle". Yes, they have lost their life...but they did not lose their fight.

It is obvious that Clare is still fighting strong - her spirit continues to brighten many lives - and one day, the effort that she put forth will kick cancer in the ass! And many will also fight with her - like my friend Rachel Brown, who is also a wonderful mother of boys who has had her own battle and continues to fight against this disease like the champion she is.


Clare at Machu Picchu - a painting by Tino Paolini

Breast Cancer sucks. But life is wonderful. Clare continues to instill this message and I am forever grateful.



Smiles,


Lora

4 comments:

  1. WOW...I love the post and the poem..and then I see my name...thanks...can't really say much else...(as I wipe my tears away!!!). Through my treatment, I joined a class called the Healing Journey...spirituality/mindful meditation..The teacher was AMAZING and she really helped me. At the end of the course, she gave us a bookmark with the most remarkable phrase "My heart has always known that love is all there is"....I live for those words now.

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  2. A lovely tribute Lora - I was so very lucky to have grown up with Clare on Waverley Road during the early years of our childhood. You capture her story and spirit beautifully.

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  3. Thanks you Rachel and Wendy. I am thinking a lot about Clare this weekend...it being Thanksgiving in Canada. I am so thankful for the many gifts she has given me and continues to give me and so many others. She lives on... Lora

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  4. I have read both your beautiful poem and the linked article. I never thought that the scenario of that film, "My Life", would be possible in reality, never thought the people would have power to live their life to the fullest and document it for the next generation when they knew they were about to die; so that implies Clare was an incredibly strong character. May she rest in peace.

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