I'm sure Sharon had dark moments. I'm sure she cried and feared and felt depressed and/or defeated. But the predominant impression I have of her looking back on her life is that she was, quite simply, better than those emotions. If those emotions were mosquitoes, she was natural DEET. Only the really adventurous and powerful mosquitoes could get through. Me? I get eaten alive.
Thinking about Sharon initially makes me sad but, almost immediately after tears well up in my eyes (as they are doing right now), I remember what she taught me: Be happy, Tom. Be grateful, Tom. Put a smile on your face, Tom. This life is a gift. These are the lessons I have learned from Sharon Marie Gath. They resonate here at the one-year anniversary of her death and, I'm sure, they will resonate to my dying day. And I am very grateful for these lessons.
I know that there are people in this world far closer to Sharon than I was fortunate to be. My sister, Julee, and Sharon were fierce friends. Of course, Sharon's mother: Donna. What do you say to those left behind? How do you comfort the inconsolable? How do you convey your hopes for those left in pain: that they might somehow find the strength to overcome? There simply is nothing to say. Sharon's absence remains and will remain an open wound. What we must do is pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, slap a bandage on, put a smile on our faces (not nearly as beautiful as Sharon's smile but whose could be?!) and soldier on. Sharon would want us to live and love and celebrate this existence with a gargantuan, indelible smile on our faces. May we do it half as well as she did.
With love always, Tom Antonellis