Ann Murray Paige

Anna Kuperberg Photography

It took some time for me to make this entry in the Project Pink Diary, as if, by letting Ann’s last diary stand, I could pretend for a moment, that she was already at work on her next entry. In the weeks, months, and years to come we will keep Ann’s positive spirit alive on this page. It is our challenge to ourselves, affirmed by Ann’s husband Sandy. –Linda

This is an excerpt from the eulogy Sandy delivered at Ann’s Celebration of Life:

Annie’s casket was made by Mike Fields, one of the most unselfish demonstrations of love I’ve ever seen, and we left it unfinished so we can finish it with our love today. Sometime before you leave, go see it, grab a sharpie and tell her why you love her. I figured that would be better than lacquer or stain.This week has been about sharing in Annie’s memory. A serious, collective celebration of her life. My goal here today isn’t to heal, isn’t even to preach. I will meet you where you are – and, I know, this is a tough place to meet. I want to share my perspective on the wonderful woman I married in 1997 in Shrewsbury, MA. But, I am not going to blow sunshine up all these pretty dresses and tell you everything is going to be okay,blather on about how the hurt will pass. That will take care of itself in time. As we did last night in her Irish Wake, we are going celebrate, remember, and I hope to give us all some tools to carry her spirit forward.

Spiritual Pixie

Let’s start with something fun. So much of Ann was just her spirit. Even when her body left her, her spirit fought on. And we all want to capture that spirit and soak it up . . . that’s why we’re here. So, let’s actually do that. Put your hands in front of you, drop the best parts of her into it. Now on the count of three, let’s toss the contents of our hands into the air. And when we do it, let’s all reach up and grab some, and place over our hearts. Now you get everybody else’s piece of Ann, too.And you can take that with you.

History

Born outside Boston in 1965, raised in Shrewsbury, MA.

Attended Boston College and Emerson for graduate studies.

We met in the Maine State House while she was on the news

beat, fell in love, married, had two fabulous kids and lived in

Maine until moving to CA in 2008. She was a great journalist,

but never comfortable covering the murder and mayhem

that was required of a beat reporter. I still remember well the

night she camped out to speak with the poorly treated Spanish

workers of an egg farm in rural Maine. She knew it was good

journalism, but hated it. She wanted to tell stories of strength

and humor – stories that made people smile.

And I could talk about her full life up to 2002, had she

been struck by lightning I could have given her eulogy

then and it would have a fabulous life. By then we had two

amazing children and that, in itself, remains our greatest

accomplishment.

Cancer

But in 2003/4 she got cancer, but she also got new meaning.

She found herself in new and important ways. In fact, it’s a big

part of why we are all here. Ann and Linda Pattillo put together

The Breast Cancer Diaries and traveled the country sharing it

with audiences. It has since traveled the world, been translated

into new languages, and even today has legs which are truly

profound.

California

In 2008 we moved to California, in part at least, to heal

emotionally from the treatments but also to find her some

space. And in that healing process, in this new land of

opportunity, she found voice . . . . as well as her favorite place.

It is where she decided to write and self-publish Pink Tips and

make it available on Amazon, where she wrote a One-Woman-

Show, where she found her soul mates. It is where the non-

profit Project Pink began to come alive.

Sure, breast cancer killed her. But didn’t it also save her? Ann

found her lost voice through cancer. And here in Davis, she

found an un-biased audience for her heart.

Let’s face it: Ann could be drawn like an emotional moth to

the most tragic of flames, she sought out the most difficult

moments, captured them, embraced them, spoke through

them and to them. She cried when she saw the homeless.

She hurt watching old people struggle. She had emotional

transparency, depths of highs and lows, that even now astonish

me.

Lows, and HIGHs.

How many of us will remember her

contagious laugh, the silliness, the margaritas, the last minute

texted invites to drinks and potluck dinner at the Paiges where

everybody showed up? Everybody showed up.

So Annie will lie in rest here in Davis, the place she was

happiest during her life. And in the most fitting closure, she will

rest in a plot at the feet of an 8 year old boy she never knew,

but with whom she shared the deepest, most personal love.

It is so tempting to be drawn in to the chasm of darkness that is

our sadness and grief today. And, perhaps because we had so

long to prepare, she knew this would happen to us . . . and she

gave us guidance – through her actions and words. I want to

share them, I want to give us some tools to carry forward.

Tool 1: Show Up

This one is the first and it is also the hardest. Even Ann, who

did this better than anybody, was not perfect at it. But she will

lay to rest with at least this on her gravestone. Show up. It

means more than it seems, take the phrase apart over time

and you’ll hear more and more meaning in it. It’s not simply a

question of being physically present, in some ways that’s easy.

Showing up is emotionally risky, it can make you vulnerable,

but it will always make you stronger. Try it in your marriage.

Use it in your friendships. Use it in your work. You will never,

ever go wrong by showing up. Meeting people where they are

emotionally. Showing up means trying to do the hard stuff.

You don’t have to do it right every single time, there’s always

tomorrow, but it means you show up whenever you can.

Christopher … you are already showing up. I have never

been prouder of you than over the last 10 days. You have

opened your heart to the world, with square shoulders and big

embrace, wiping tears and helping friends and family cope. And

you are just 14. Keep showing up like this and you will make

mom and me very, very proud.

Show up.

Tool 2: Half Full

This is from Ellie, who held out longer than anybody for a

miracle and reminded me so many times that I needed to see

mom’s fight glass as still half full. And I cherish that love and

that optimism more than anything. Thank you for being so

persistent.

So today, and tomorrow . . . and forever more . . . when you

grab a glass of wine or beer or juice or water, fill it half full. See

the top half, the one that appears so empty, see it with our

spiritual pixie bouncing around the inside, challenging you to

see the top half as opportunity, not emptiness.

Annie got a terminal cancer diagnosis 3.5 years ago, but lived

her life half full to the end. 48 hours before her death, when

she couldn’t stand without somebody on each arm, she could

barely form words anymore, but the words she formed that day

were “TAKE ME TO SPIN CLASS AT FITHOUSE.” She could barely

stand. She could barely speak. But she could still dance. Her

glass, more than anybody’s on this green, was nearly empty. Or

was it?

The volunteers pouring wine, water, lemonade and beer behind

you are instructed to fill the glasses half full. Start practicing

today.

Half Full.

Tool 3: Walk in Ann’s shoes

So . . . Ann had a bit of a shoe problem. Of course, like most

addicts, she did not see it as a problem. As her therapist on this

issue, I should have been fired, disbarred, my license revoked. I

failed in my interventions and the addiction continued.

I really want us all to walk in her shoes – figuratively, of course.

Think about how hard it was to do what she did. We called her

Superwoman, but she had no superpowers. She put one foot

in front of the other, pants on one leg at a time. What am I

asking? To the doctors in the crowd, walk in your patient’s

shoes. To the lawyers, be your client’s true advocate. To the

teachers, feeling that child’s pain, struggling with Geometry.

Walk in their shoes.

And . . . if you are a size 6.5 or 7, why don’t you ACTUALLY do

it. On the way out, there are about 50 pairs of Ann’s shoes.

I invite you to take a pair, just one pair, for yourself or for a

daughter or granddaughter whom you know they will fit. But

they really need to fit. Not just in the foot, but also in the heart.

This isn’t an opportunity to collect a piece of Ann, because

it comes with responsibility. These shoes are like the ruby

slippers in the Wizard of Oz. You may only wear them to do

good works. You must explicitly be thinking of Annie and doing

something for others.

And because not everybody is a size 6.5, if you’d like to come

as close as you can to Annie’s shoes, visit The Wardrobe in

downtown Davis. Heather and her friends will find something

for you, as close to Annie’s tastes as possible in shoes, hats

or the many other things which Annie loved in Heather’s

shop. And when you buy something in Annie’s memory at the

Wardrobe, some of the proceeds will help Project Pink.

But your obligation doesn’t just stop with wearing the shoes

and doing good work . . . you must tell others about what you

did. Write on FB, tweet about it. Call me. Call others. You can

have a pair of her ruby slippers if you promise to wear them in

her honor, share the good works you do. Find your tin man . . .

and give him life.

Walk in her shoes.

Tool 4: Wear her ring.

Our marriage was always public property. From our first date,

when we couldn’t have dinner without being mobbed, to the

documentary when I returned home to find a video camera

in the corner of our bedroom. To the blog I opened at work

one day . . . where she wrote about dragging me to a marriage

therapist. I knew that publicity was the price of admission to

her life.

The day we got engaged on Togue Pond in Baxter State Park

in northern Maine, I was not prepared. I had no ring. I had

something more important, though, I had Veuve Cliquot. So

we celebrated, and I slipped off to the woodshed. I took my

leatherman and pulled a nail from a piece of kindling and

formed a crude ring. She wore it. And she cherished it. And she

is wearing it now.

But not before I had a cast of it made – and some sterling

silver poured into it. We got an exact replica. Last week, in her

final hours, I slipped sterling silver copies on her fingers and

gave them to Christopher and Ellie the moment she passed.

They wear them now, too. And this week I gave sterling silver

copies of that ring to some of her closest friends. But that’s not

enough. The public property of our successful marriage offers

another opportunity, perhaps a glass half full. I want you all to

share in that cast, the cast sits in the safe at DeLuna’s Jewelers

here in Davis. She was tough as nails. And you can be too.

So if you want to share in it, go to DeLuna Jewelers in Davis.

Or call them. Tell them you want a copy of Ann’s nail ring,

tell them how you’d like to use it. They have the cast and

permission to use it – to fill it with anything other than sterling

silver. The silver is only for us. Try platinum for your wife. Try

the special allow for your second grade teacher. Try 10 or 14

carat gold. Have them make you rings, necklaces and earrings

from her nail ring and some of the benefits will fall to Project

Pink.

Ann was tough as nails – and a sterling silver friend. You can

be, too. Just drop by or call DeLuna’s, ask about Ann’s nail ring.

They’ll find a way for you to share in her beauty.

Honestly, one of the beauties of Annie was she had a purity to

her. Almost naivete in her willingness to trust, to embrace and

to join with others. And in her humility, she underestimated

herself, always. I am certain she is as overwhelmed by the

response over the last week as I am. The calls, texts, emails and

tears from around the globe have proven her reach to be far

more extensive than any of us knew.

It is often that you don’t know what you had until it is gone.

This is just not one of those times, is it?. We know very well

what’s missing. And that’s why it’s so darn hard. So let’s

not wallow in our grief. Let’s fight for her, not just Ann the

individual, but the Ann the spiritual pixie, Ann’s values, Ann’s

soul. And in doing so, we’ll get some emotional and spiritual

justice from this tragedy and we’ll carry her forward on our

shoulders, in our shoes, in our glasses, or on our fingers. This

week, and last night, the Davis community has joined hands,

simply refusing the let the memory of Annie fade. Time will do

what it must, but we will do our part to maintain the splendor

of her legacy.

What can you do?

You can Show Up.

You can keep your glass Half Full.

You can walk in her Shoes.

And you can wear her Ring.

I dare you – I DARE you — to see if it won’t improve your life,

and the lives of those around you, forever.

We love you, Annie. We won’t forget, I promise.

Sandy Paige

—-
Donations to Project Pink can be sent to:
Project Pink
245 N. Highland Ave.
Suite 230-271
Atlanta, GA
30307

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Posted April 3rd, 2014 by
Ann Murray Paige
Posted in: Linda's Diary, News