* New as far as Emelia is concerned, however they were all Kijiji finds
So, as the title of today’s post suggests, we had to say goodbye to a dear friend today. And it wasn’t easy. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, our friend Gabriella lost her valiant battle with cancer. Today would have been Gabi’s 42nd birthday and in the most perfect of ways, they decided to forgo a big funeral, in lieu of a celebration of her life with all of the people she touched. It couldn’t have been a better tribute to a woman who made such a deep impact in so many lives. We will miss her dearly.
Danielle and I were talking about it today, and we realized that we had known Gabi for over 20 years. We met her through friends of my older brother Greg—one of whom, originally from my home town, she was dating. That relationship didn’t last, but our friendship certainly did. When we met her, she was in beautician school and Danielle and I looking to land more permanently in London after university, were in the hunt for someone we trusted to cut our hair. And so began a 20+ year friendship with Gabi that saw us through life changes like dating, marriage and then having kids—the least of which were all the different hair cuts we had.
Danielle and Gabi were pregnant at the same time when we subsequently welcomed daughters into our lives 10 days apart. And through that, Danielle and Gabi forged an even stronger friendship. Not only was she the person Danielle entrusted to her hair and would let tell her what would and wouldn’t look good, she was someone that Danielle could talk about all the angles of motherhood as they discovered and went through them at the same time.
When it came to our hair, we started way-back-when getting our hair cut in the kitchen of her apartment while she was still in school and moved with her as she graduated to salons through at least 5 or 6 of them before we moved into the 2 home-based salons she maintained in their houses. She twice bleached my hair to platinum white that I did on a whim for weekend roller hockey tournaments I was going to. And she never seemed to tire when she worked at the salons, as she had the mirror out and was showing me the completed back of my head and I would shout in astonishment – to a full salon – that she had “hacked off my rat tail!“. She would always smile with her huge smile and go along, no matter how old and tired that joke got.
And her children… Emelia and Millie hit it off from the first visits with Mommy to get her hair cut. They both loved princesses and both were equally shy. They connected over dolls, and pink and all things girlie. A couple months back we ran into Gabi’s husband Marcel, Millie and their son Mikey. The three kids reconnected and played wonderfully for the time we were at the campground together. It was great. All except knowing that Gabi wasn’t there that weekend camping with them – something she loved to do – meant that the cancer was starting to win the battle of wills with her. As much as it was great to see the kids connect, there was an undertone to that weekend, and it sadly became realized much to everyone’s want otherwise.
I started going to her first, then Danielle. And eventually her relationship with cutting Teeter’s hair had grown to include: my brother Greg and his then wife Sherri, Mom and Dad; Matthew and Shawn; and finally Emelia. I am sure she has done more. But suffice it to say our entire family is feeling the loss. Today was a very important day for all of us. Gabi wasn’t just the person who cut our hair—she was a dear friend, and we miss her.
So, with that in mind we’re going to let her continue to be part of us, we’re going to embrace the things that she loved most: laughing, people and above all else camping.
Godspeed, Gabi. Godspeed
Today was a beautiful day. Not normally a sentiment you would say when you have been to a funeral of a dear friend. But this was a different funeral, it was truly a celebration of an amazing life. Everyone was there with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. In her last months Gabi had decided that she did not want a funeral and visitation, she didn’t want people sitting there in a funeral home but rather in a place of celebration. And how suiting today was, it was very Gabi. The woman who had style, a beautifully blunt personality as everyone said only she could have. She could say what was on her mind with that beautiful smile and you just were 100% ok with her opinion.
I have a million memories of Gabi, from getting our hair cut in her kitchen right out of school, to moving from salon to salon as her career evolved. To our wedding day almost 15 years ago when she got up at the crack of dawn and with a huge coffee in hand she did all our hair, all my girls, family, everyone. And always with that amazing smile. She always made you feel loved and beautiful.
Over the years our lives grew, our hairstyles changed and we essentially grew together, we went from young fresh out of school to wives to mothers. I remember like it was yesterday when I told Gabi about our news about being pregnant with Emelia. She said with that beautiful accent of hers,’ this pregnancy will be prefect and special and stick’. And I said with tears in my eyes (after loosing our first two pregnancies), ‘how do you know?’. She said with the biggest smile – ‘because I am pregnant too and we are doing this together’. So we did, we grew together (literally), complained about the swollen feet, the nausea and also relished in the baby kicks and ultrasounds. And in the end we had our girls less than two weeks apart.
Even after Emelia was born with a newborn herself she came over and bought us a big basket of newborn necessities and food, that was the friend she was. She was always thinking of others, always thinking of her friends and family. Even after the girls were born we shared our joys and frustrations of being new moms, we struggled together with everything including losing the weight after becoming moms. She was an incredible inspiration to me, she and I shared training ideas, nutrition and everything in between. We cheered each other on.
And then the dreaded news, all the work on our health and the worst news possible. Cancer. And she fought it as Gabi did everything. With all her heart, with determination and that amazing smile on her face. She fought it every step of the way, she was always positive even when she had every right to be downright mad.
Today was a celebration to an incredible woman, to celebrate her life, her family and her friendships. And I will be forever grateful that I was blessed to be part of her life. I will miss her f0rever. I feel that the best way to honour her is to remember what she said often in the end. Not everyone gets the luxury to grow old. I feel that I have to live my life to fullest, to see the world as a good place just like she did and live the life that was robbed from her.
I love you Gabriella and was honoured to know you.