Life without Naya. I had hoped I never had to face that reality. But here it is. What's it like? Quiet, empty, sad, and painful at times. As if there's too much space in the air and it needs her laughter, wit, opinion, and presence. It's not always that way. Pictures and daily experiences remind us of her happy life, laughter, strength, kindness, courage and loving nature. Our home and community are filled with her presence and surround us with her style, personality, grace and smile. And, there are the life-long gifts she left with us to carry forward.
The most generous gift of all is how she has helped me open my heart to others. I feel like a Kay Jewelers ad, but it's true. I have met so many people who are so compassionate and have opened up their hearts, love and friendship to our family and me. Our story and mine have touched many at her school and in our community, and I look forward to continuing her legacy and her story with many of you. I am establishing new friendships and growing old ones all thanks to Naya. I care about their lives as much as they care about ours, and would be at their side any time.
I'm also finally understanding that caring for myself is just as important as caring for others. How many of us, especially women, have heard that before. But taking care of ourselves allows us to live life in full color. Naya showed me daily that she wanted to live in full, regardless of the obstacles in her path. We're given one life on this earth. What's the point of not living large, experiencing everything, and taking some risks? What's the point of not being your best in all you do? What's the point of not experiencing joy, laughter and love? But, you can only do those things if you truly take care of yourself.
Finally, life is not full without being grateful, thanking people and giving back. Roughly 500 people gave up their Sunday afternoon to celebrate Naya. At least 800 people gave over $200,000 to her cause. When we began this journey, we had no idea it would touch so many people and change their lives too. Many of you were grateful to us for sharing our journey, life and Naya with you. Well...Thank you!!! You have helped us get through the most difficult time of our lives. You cried with us, celebrated with us, loved us, and now are supporting her dream of curing cancer. What more can we ask....Stay with us and follow our journey, follow the blog. As she said on November 5th...I've only just begun.
Her celebration was incredibly special. Here are some beautiful pictures, and one from last Thanksgiving. The service was held at her barn with PaintJack present. Her celebration was all Naya. Perfect colors (purple and pink), her favorite foods (sushi, chocolate ice cream and brie), and most importantly, a room full of hundreds of people sharing their love of Naya in full color. She was watching all of us with a big smile.