Life Lessons: Loss

Life Lessons:  Loss

It’s been three years. I’ve been told that it takes one full year to fully grieve for a loved one; one full year of missed birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries of their life and death. Yet three years later, Gaelle’s absence in my life is a constant presence.

It’s funny how you can still have so much left to say to someone after their death. Things that you never said, but wished you had. Things you said, and wished you could take back. Gaelle and I spoke often, went to dinners that could stretch the length of an entire evening, and could have a detailed conversation about absolutely nothing. Yet, we never ran out of topics to cover.

But it’s the little things that I never got the chance to ask her about that still haunt me. The unfinished conversations that you know you can never have with someone, and the topics that you will need to explore on your own. Gaelle was more than a friend to me; she was also my mentor. My strongest supporter in my weakest moments and my cheerleader on my darkest days. Her optimism always gave me hope and her strength and resilience rubbed off on everyone she met.

She was one of the first people I called when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I knew not only that she would she be a sympathetic ear, but that she would immediately suggest we go to dinner at our favorite pizzeria. And she did. We talked the night away and for a few hours, I had completely forgotten about the devastating news I received earlier in the day.

Gaelle’s most often used phrase when I would tell her about something I thought was the end of the world was “it is what it is,” a line that both infuriated and satisfied me (and one that I now have adopted). In life’s most challenging moments, when I can no longer call Gaelle for her wisdom and I feel my anxiety rising, I can still hear her saying those five little words and somehow it makes it all better.

So why do I choose to commemorate her birthday (which would have been today, by the way)? Because it is a reminder that despite hardships, sacrifices, and difficult times, life is meant to be lived to the fullest. None of us know how long we have on this Earth, and to me, Gaelle’s legacy is that of a life well lived.

Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Woo Hoo…what a ride!'” And that’s how Gaelle lived her life.



  1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Vanessa. I know exactly the feeling; I lost my aunt who I hadn’t seen for years nearly a year ago and I still can’t process that she’s gone. I was able to see her before she passed and it gives me peace, but there are so many things that I wish could’ve been said and done. Her daughter is getting married this weekend and we all have to be strong for her, but it still hurts a lot. Gaelle sounds like such an incredible and wise woman and part of who she was is living on through you, through the wisdom and knowledge she’s imparted to you and that’s the beautiful thing about life; we leave part of ourselves with those we care for. I think this is such a great reminder for all of us to truly live and look for ways we can be of use, to benefit someone else. We can sometimes live this life with a sense of entitlement, as if tomorrow is guaranteed, when in fact it’s not, not for anyone. Thank you for always being so open, real, and just YOU! You are incredibly special and so very strong.



    1. I’ve read your comment twice now, and each time it has brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry for your loss as well, Jalisa! You and your family will definitely be in my prayers. I think what stuck me about your comment is that I never thought of Gaelle’s legacy living on through me. That’s a beautiful thing and something I will cherish forvever. XO

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