Amy had a distinctive, subtle, natural smile that eased up ever so slightly on the right side of her face.
Amy loved to collect things, especially if there was a bargain to be had. When we built our first home, we created an over-sized closet for her so that she could stow away things like Christmas ornaments, sweaters the girls might wear in five years or incredibly useful things like thimbles.
Amy, a CPA and MBA, had a clear, analytical mind that enabled her to see the poetry in numbers void of any emotion. She saw things as they were.
There was a softness to Amy that betrayed you, because it hid a ruthlessly determined spirit – one that saw her participating in a ‘how to use your wheelchair’ class on the final day of her life, as she became paralyzed by the cancer that ruled her body.
More than anything, Amy was a mother, it was all she wanted to be, and with the birth of our two girls, she was at peace.
All the things that Amy collected, they’re gone.
The painstaking hours we spent testing yellow paint in our dining room is forgotten, having sold our home long ago. What was once ours is a distant memory, having been renovated twice since we left.
The work Amy did to help streamline the Yale Medical School’s finances has surely been improved upon and long since forgotten.
Today, walking in the park, I was struck by the smiles on the faces of random people passing by, and the enormity of life that each represents.
One day, everything we do, buy, acquire – it will all be gone.
One day, generations from now, time will forget all of us.
But the impact we have on people, on our community and our world becomes our legacy.
Today, I thought about Nick, sitting in a wheelchair just as Amy was, celebrating his birthday, greeting me so graciously with a warm, inviting smile. I think about the impact he has had on my life, and the enduring legacy of the work we do at Elizabeth’s Smile.
Today, eighteen years on from Amy’s death, there are just a few of us treasuring Amy’s birthday. As life would have it, for most, it is a day, just like any other day.
But today, I live with the memory of Amy’s smile.