love thursday: to jen

The lovely Jen (on the left) and her sister at Mark's wedding, a little less than 1 year ago.


So this week, a little something different for Love Thursday.

I don't exactly remember when I first met Jen.  I know it was almost 14 years ago, when I used to hang out almost daily at my favourite coffeehouse.  I know I met her through a mutual acquaintance, and I remember when I met her, I was struck by a couple of things: first, she was incredibly elegant and poised, surprising because she was only 22 years old -- she had just graduated from college, and I was 30, and I remember thinking that I would've loved to carry myself with the same sort of bearing that she did.  Secondly, she had the most astonishing smile I'd ever seen.  She was a serious and incredibly intelligent girl, but she had a razor-sharp wit, and when her sudden smile appeared it was like the sun just started shining in whatever room we were in.  Jen was also very well loved: she had fierce friends, of whom Alex's godfather, Mark, was one of them.  Without Jen, I would've never met Mark, and for this alone I'm wildly grateful to her.

A little less than 18 months ago, mere weeks after her wedding, Jen began an excruciating battle against ovarian cancer. After many months of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and frankly, more hell than anyone should have to endure, she succumbed to her illness on March 27, 2011.  She is survived by her solid-as-a-rock husband Mike, her sister, her parents, and countless friends who, not to put too fine a point on it, adored her.  She is seriously missed, and not a day has gone by since the 27th that she hasn't been in my thoughts.

The celebration of her life is to occur this Saturday in Chicago, and unfortunately, I won't be able to make it.  But this week, I learned of another really special event for her that I'm so thrilled about:  Argot Wines, owned by a couple of Jen's friends, have bottled a special rosé in Jen's name, with 100% of the proceeds going to the National Ovarian Cancer CoalitionYou can read the story about this special wine (and their lovely relationship with Jen) here.

Needless to say, Marcus and I have bought a few bottles, and it's my sincere hope they sell out of all of this wine with a quickness.  And so, if you're so moved (and are in the United States), you can purchase your own bottles here.

With that, join me in raising a virtual glass to Jen.  Also, here's to everyone around the world who is literally in a battle for their lives:  may you emerge victorious.

And to everyone else: love the people you love a little harder today.  Because Jen would want that.


Image:  Photographed with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens.  aperture 4.5, shutter speed 1/1600, ISO 200


Song: Smile, as performed by Natalie Cole