Its been a while since I have been able to sit down and write, although writing is usually my way of expressing and releasing my emotions, thoughts and feelings…these past few days I have been numbed. Numbed by the loss of my beautiful cousin, Sandrine. For those of you who know Sandrine, know and understand what I mean when I say she was “beautiful”. Her voice was angelic, her eyes had the ability to capture you and her laughter wrapped its self around you like a warm hug. Sandrine was a couple of years older than me, and was one of my main mentors in life. The thing was, I don’t even think she knew it.
Take a moment to watch this slide show…. if you don’t know her you will know why she was loved by so many, and this song is her singing….
All of my major life decisions or moves, were based on things she had done, said or told me to grab on and ‘go for it!”.
Sandrine and I grew up a few houses apart. When our parents were away we snuck to see each other. I vividly remember listening to her words of advice and experience with wide eyes, in awe of all that she knew. She was always so brilliant to me. When I had my grade 8 confirmation, it only made sense to ask the one person I wanted to be like to sponsor me. She said yes, and I was SO proud to stand up in church next to her. Have you seen her! Any one would be proud to stand next to her, and say you knew her.
When I said earlier that she impacted some of my major decisions, its not even close to being an understatement. I remember walking into her room at Christmas when I was in grade 10. She was sprawled half on her mattress and half on the floor, leaning over papers and books with a highlighter in her mouth and a pencil in her hair. I asked her what she was doing, and she looked up and said, “getting out of school sweetie.” I looked at her not sure what she meant, but already knew I would love whatever she was planning. She explained to me that she was fast tracking and going to graduate in grade 12, not 13. I remember the moment, clearly, I also remember on that very Christmas, just before her and I ruined the families mashed potatoes with too much milk and butter… I decided I would also fast track and get out of school in 4 years! I crawled next to her on her bed, and learned just how to do it.
Sandrine was Miss Alpine, Miss KW and a runner up for Miss Oktoberfest. All things that never even crossed my mind, until she accomplished them all! I read her articles in the news paper where she told children to follow their dreams, and spoke to hundreds of people her words of love, positivity and caring. I thought, how amazing! And a few years later, I set out on the same path she did. And I never ever took it as my own journey. Every time I introduced myself, at an Oktoberfest, Alpine or community event, I said, “Im Melissa, Im cousins with Sandrine Mahler.” I was so proud to be her little cousin.
I have had many people stop me and comment on my dedication, my motivation and my drive to accomplish the things I have in life. Although I will say I couldn’t have done any of it without the Grace of God, the honest truth, is even working out, training and eventually stepping on stage as a figure athlete, was driven in the beginning by… you guessed it, Miss Sandrine, her self! I can remember the day she walked down the high school halls of Bluevale in a super short black skirt. Her legs were lean, her calves were shredded and a perfect tan glowed as she turned heads with every step. Only Sandrine could pull that off. Im sure eyes were raised in the school office at her attire, but she smiled, almost oblivious to the impact she had on those poor grade 9 boys struggling to close their locker doors as she gracefully floated by. She stopped at me, gave me her infamous smile, kissed me and I said “holy cow Sandrine your legs are wicked”… She laughed, said some quirky remark and finished with, “Wanna work out at the YMCA with me?” uhhh of course I did! That was her. She never took a compliment, she just turned any thing you said, back to you and offered a way she could help you or just be a part of your own journey to accomplish something.
Sandrine had this endless ability to give, to love and make everyone around her feel special. She was never, not smiling. You would never know if she, herself needed a shoulder to cry on. Weakness was not a word in her vocabulary. Even if people put her down, doubted her ability or talked about her behind her back, Sandrine would still walk into the room with that very person standing across from her, and bless them with a huge smile, a kiss on the cheek and probably a joke that makes the whole room laugh so hard, that person for a split second would forget that they ever didnt approve of her before. Sandrine tought me to see how blessed I was, showed me that love is easier than hate. That tomorrow may not come, so LIVE for today. She embraced me, my family and my son with her passion. I only wish that each of my children could have met her to understand true humour, true selfless and endless love, and had Aunt Sandrine in their corner screaming out obscene comments at sporting events, showing her support!… Cause that’s exactly what she would do, LOL.
Sandrine if you can read this, I want you to know you were were loved. You knew SO much, knew how to help so many, but you didnt KNOW how many people loved you, or to help yourself. You are the reason I stand her today with the list of accomplishments, the experiences and the beliefs that I hold dear to my heart. You taught me from your actions, to be humble, kind, to love everyone, to be a ear to others even when people don’t understand why I give them a chance, to forgive when people hurt me, and to understand when people hurt. I loved you, you made me laugh, some times out of the uncomfort of your jokes, but mostly just because you were hilarious, and you knew how to use your humour to engulf everyone in your passion. You will forever be loved, missed, adored and stories will always be shared. Thank you for sharing your voice at my wedding, and your lessons in my life.
We love you.
……and will see you again….. and I don’t doubt that when we do, you will have a good joke to share…..