Today I joined what felt like nearly 1000 people to celebrate the life and untimely early death of a dynamo woman who made an impact across the valley and across New England.
Among the speakers this morning at the very packed Log Cabin, in their biggest banquet hall, was a woman who was close friends with Andrea Raphael in college, She spoke of a conversation she recalled when they were talking about former classmates at Williams College…and a man named Jeff Smith came up.
Nobody remembered anything about poor Jeff, he didn’t register, and Andrea said then that she hoped that she would be remembered. She told her friend that she wanted to be someone who people would have stories to tell about, and who would stand out. As I cast my eyes on the huge crowd, I thought wow, you sure got your wish, Andrea. You did stand out.
Through out the service, which was marked by fond personal tributes, it was clear that here we were celebrating a person who had made a big difference. From working for causes local and national, to helping neighbors, to being a great friend, an assembler of celebrations, an organizer of events that had lasting impact…here was a woman who made a mark.
She ran fast and hard, she played sports with a furious zest, and when she was inexplicably silenced by this terrible disease that no one still understands, we were all stunned. It wasn’t the Andrea we knew. But she was only human.
A close friend told me that he wanted to make more of his life after hearing the tributes, and began thinking about his own legacy. I thought too, that I wanted to contribute more to the greater good, and that Andrea has inspired me. I think many of us in the room during the service left with the same resolve. Thank you Andrea.