I didn’t know Colleen personally but after reading about her and her life I am sitting here with a lump in my throat and a deep sense of sadness.
I learned about her from a notice of her passing on the homepage of a website I belong to called Ravelry. It's for knitting, crocheting and fiber enthusiasts. I didn't know her, but I feel like I could have known her…turns out we have so much in common.
I found out she was only 40 years old and died of an aggressive form of liver cancer on October 17, only two months after having been diagnosed. She had two children 5 and 2 yrs old who both had birthdays just weeks before she died.
I read her blog Spiffy Knits and found that she loved to knit and dye fiber and spin her own yarn. After reading portions of her blog I could feel her excitement about her yarn dyeing and spinning and how much she enjoyed being a WAHM (work at home mom). She was also an "older" mommy like me - she had her children when she was 35 and 38 years old and they are almost the same ages as my two children.
She left the corporate world to do what she loved - work with fiber by spinning, dyeing and knitting it under the name "Spiffy Knits". Just last year, almost a year to the day when she would die from liver cancer, she formed a little internet business called "Tiny Lady Cooperative" with two other women so that she could sell her hand-dyed yarn and fiber.
Through the magic of Google I was able to see her Obituary, her LinkedIn page, her Amazon wish list and her family's Flickr page. I saw photos from when her two children were born (2003, 2006), of her working on renovating her house and re-modeling her kitchen. I could tell from her smile and light in her eyes that she was an energetic, happy person. Her wish list on Amazon gave a glimpse into where her interests were and what was important to her at different times in her life - it varied from books on "How to Be Your Own Literary Agent" - marked in 2004 to "Nourishing Foods for Cancer Survivors" marked days after she was diagnosed in August 2008. In between those dates were books about motherhood and knitting; knitting patterns, books about color and about dyeing with natural dyes grown yourself. She seemed to have a zest for life, that much seems painfully clear.
My heart breaks to think of her family without their mommy and their wife. Her little boy, the two year old, will likely not remember her at all. My son will also be two in January and having that point of reference is almost too much. It all makes me want to cry. I cried on the way from my office to the train thinking about it all.
Her story moved me enough that I am going to make a donation to the college fund that has been set up for her two children. I feel like that is the least I could do for someone that I didn’t know but sounded so much like me and someone I wish I had met. There is a fundraiser going on at Celebrating Colleen organized by the internet cooperative she formed with two friends last year.
I guess I'm hoping that word will get out and maybe the fundraising activities will be successful and at least her children will have some sort of college fund of substance for them since they won't have their mother.
UPDATE November 6 : I just found out that I won one of the raffles I entered in Colleen's fundraiser! I'm so excited - check out the gorgeous basket of sock yarn . Even more exciting is the fundraiser brought in $12K for Colleen's children's college fund - I'm so happy that I was able to participate and it makes me feel so good to know that so many people cared about her and her children to try and help.