I was originally planning to do a new outfit post today from the photo shoot that Robbie and I did last weekend. But as I sat down to go through the photos yesterday morning, something happened that put work and plans on hold. Last night, after an incredibly difficult day, I struggled with whether or not I could even post here. I had so much to process, but wasn't sure if I wanted to do it on the blog. Occasionally, I do share personal things here, like Bubby dog's illness and passing, stories from our wedding, and the occasional random pondering on life. But usually, I stick to fun things like design and fashion, and keep the personal stuff on the back-burner. In the end, I decided that I should share my thoughts with all of you, and to do it in honor of someone dear to me - someone with a spirit so incredible that it deserves to be shared.
In 2006, right after I'd met Robbie (my now husband), I also got to meet a very special person through Robbie's band. This person's name was Margarita, and she would quickly become one of my dearest friends. From the day I met her, I was in awe of how positive, intelligent, fun, compassionate, colorful, and unique she was. She was absolutely gorgeous, held several degrees, and worked with many charities that helped humans and animals. Margarita and I bonded immediately, and had amazing experiences together all over the country. She was also involved in many projects I put together for my clothing line. She modeled and participated in speaking engagements with me, and was a constant source of support and encouragement. In 2008, she decided to move to Florida to start a new adventure. We hosted a going away party for her that I'll never forget! As the years passed, even with the geographical distance between us, she never felt far away.
In 2010, Margarita was visiting Colombia (where she is originally from) and was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident. After emergency surgery, she was transferred to Denver and went through a long, grueling recovery. Margarita lost her ability to walk, but never once through her recovery did she complain. She got herself the most stylish pink wheelchair she could find, and remained incredibly positive and hopeful. When she was finally released from the hospital (after 6 months), she quickly became involved in several projects that promoted awareness of spinal cord injuries. She actively participated in rigorous physical therapy, learned yoga, and became a mentor to others who faced similar challenges. She was even crowned Ms. Wheelchair Colorado.
Marg's life post-accident wasn't without challenges, but she always overcame them in the end. She suffered a terrible injury while walking her beloved dog Montana and ended up back in the hospital for several months last summer. She had another injury on an uneven Denver street last month, and many others in between. But she refused to let her "disability" slow her down. She continued to travel, to learn, to grow, and to pursue new adventures. She had to miss our wedding in October because she'd made plans to participate in a huge wheelchair race. I couldn't think of a cooler reason not to be there.
Yesterday morning, right after I'd sat down to work, I got an email from Margarita's cousin in Colombia asking me to call her. I knew Marg was in Miami with her family, because on Easter Sunday she'd given her first sermon at the Metaphysical Church of South Florida. She had recently received her degree in quantum healing hypnosis and was so excited to give this sermon on rebirth. When I talked to her cousin, my heart sank. The night before, Margarita had been doing her nightly exercises in her aunt's pool. She had been working extra hard to strengthen her muscles in preparation for a potential surgery that would give her a 60% chance of walking again. Her aunt was inside on the phone, and when she looked out to check on Marg and didn't she her, she ran out and discovered that Margarita had drowned. (Typing this out is not easy.) Margarita was resuscitated, but there had been substantial damage and she was on life support. Her cousin asked me to reach out to Marg's friends so that we could collectively pray and send healing thoughts her way. Robbie and I both got on the phone and started making some of the most heart wrenching calls of our lives. Unfortunately, a few hours later, I got word from her cousin that Margarita had passed away.
My heart is heavy and I am still in complete shock as I write this. But I felt the overwhelming need to share Margarita's incredible story, even as grief overcomes me and the reality of this situation sinks in. More than anything, I wanted to share it because Marg had been working on a series for Bubby and Bean where she'd planned to share her story with you herself. She had started writing a post that outlined her journey since her accident, and had planned on writing several others in hopes of showing others the potential to create a whole new life after overcoming major adversity. It makes me so sad that she wasn't able to carry out this plan. But I feel some comfort in being able to share it for her, and to give you guys a glimpse into how amazing and inspiring she was.
As horribly sad and sick as I (and many, many others) feel inside right now, I wonder if Marg decided on that life support machine that it was her time to go dance again (she LOVED to dance; it was one of the things she most missed about being in a wheelchair). After her most recent injury, she'd jokingly said "this cat is running out of lives!" She'd also mentioned that she'd had four Near Death Experiences in 25 months. She was so special, and her spirit was so huge, that I wonder if she was just a little too big for world. And I think she was at peace with this.
Ironically (or maybe not), Monday, the night that Marg drowned, was also Jeff's birthday. Jeff was a dear friend who I considered to be my brother (I was actually married to him years ago, and we stayed very close to in the years that followed). I actually posted about him last year on the one-year anniversary of his death, and mentioned that this blog was started out of my desire to "relearn how to follow my bliss" after the great loss felt by his passing. Remembering him, and now facing another great loss, I am reminded of how fragile life is. We all say things like "life is short" all the time, but it is in times where we truly feel it, deep to the core, that it becomes real.
As Robbie prepares to go back on the road with the band today, my heart aches at the thought of not having him here to hug through the upcoming days and nights. I have lost many people who were close to my heart over the years, but right now, I feel more strongly than ever the importance of cherishing your time with those you love, and to always remember to tell them how much they mean to you. I feel very lucky that I was able to tell Marg how special she was. Honestly, it was kind of impossible not to tell her this on a regular basis. She shined so brightly and overcame so much that you couldn't help but constantly express to her how much she awed you. I am also reminded that we are all here for a reason, and that we are given an opportunity to do something meaningful with our lives. I can't think of a greater example of this than my beautiful friend Margarita Verano, who in her short life, made an impact so massive that thousands of people (literally) are left forever changed.
Margie - little daisy - thank you for the late-night adventures, the long phone calls, the compassion and love, the sunrise laughter sessions, the intense conversations, the overwhelming inspiration, and for teaching the rest of us what it means to truly LIVE. This world is just a little darker without your sparkle in it. Wherever you are, I hope you're dancing barefoot in the grass, reunited with your mom. In your favorite words: "sunshine and synchronicity!" Tu eres bonita Margarita. I love you so much.
P.S. I also wanted to share a short video that Marg put together last year about starting a new life after spinal cord injury. Embedding is disabled, but you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here. It's beautiful and inspiring and I am so grateful that she created it to share with the rest of the world. I'm also grateful that Marg included one of my favorite pictures of us in the video. I'll always be a better person having had her in my life.