Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emily's Legacy

As we begin the extremely difficult task of adjusting to our lives without Emily there have been many things that have helped to continue her legacy.  Emily would have been thrilled to know that so many people have donated in her memory to the Helen Sawaya Fund and the Pink Daisy Project.  Both of these charities were very important to Emily and she benefited from them during her fight with breast cancer.

Emily's friends have found some other ways to raise money in her memory.  The Measure Lounge at the Langham 5th Avenue in New York City has a "Cheers to Emily" drink on their menu this month with a dollar of each drink purchased will be donated to the Pink Daisy Project.  Last weekend my parents and I joined several of her friends to say "Cheers to Emily" and enjoy her special cocktail.  It was a very nice evening to celebrate Emily and she would have loved it.  There were some tears, lots of laughter, and many "Emily stories" being shared.  The drink is delicious and we are happy to hear that it is very popular!
Even more money has been raised for the Pink Daisy Project in Emily's memory.  A teacher friend's school raised over $400 last week during their Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  Also one of Emily's friends has a daughter who is having her third birthday party soon.  In lieu of presents, they have asked guests to instead make a donation to the Pink Daisy Project.

Shortly after Emily passed away an article was published telling her story and discussing the financial burden of being diagnosed with a chronic illness on Learnvest.com.  This article was actually picked up by several online publications including Forbes.com and Huffingtonpost.com.  It is comforting to know that many people have read her story, been inspired by her strength, and also have a better understanding of what is possibly involved when life gives such unexpected news.

I also love hearing stories how friends continue to carry Emily's memory with them.  An avid runner who participates in several races a year had a shoe charm made with the letter E and runs in honor of Emily for all of her races.  Another friend always carries a copy of The Great Gatsby (Emily's favorite book) with a couple of pictures of Emily inside as she travels through New York City.  I knew I too wanted to have a tribute in some way and I decided to have the letter E tattooed on my left wrist.  Emily knew I had the idea to do it and actually got to see it before she passed away.  I told her that would be my way to take her with me from now on and promised her I would still do things that we had planned to do.  I had the tattoo artist trace her initial off her signature from my son's first birthday card and now I love to see her handwriting permanently on my wrist.  My mother decided she liked it so much she wanted one too!  So now we have matching Es!
We know that nothing will ever replace Emily in our lives but we will continue to carry on her memory and look forward to doing more things to carry on her legacy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Emily's Life in Pictures

Here is a slideshow that we have compiled of Emily's travels, friends, and family. Thank you to everyone who submitted pictures to help us create this wonderful way to relive our great memories of Emily.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Celebrating Emily's Life - Part 3

Katie's Eulogy for Emily:
Hello, my name is Katie, for those of you that don’t know me. It’s wonderful to see so many people gathered today to celebrate Emily’s life, show her how much we love her and to support and hold up the Easter and Kirner families. I have to comment on this weather, 85 degrees and sunny! No one loved summer as much as Emily Easter. It’s very fitting to have it be a summerlike day. I think Emily delivered this to us.
I met Emily in the summer of 2000, we started our PR careers together sitting in cubicles next to each other. I actually sat behind her and could see her curly, brown hair in front of me. I always wanted curly hair I’d tell her, and she’d always tell me about who her hair was straight until high school when it turned curly. I think she was trying to give me hope that my hair too could turn curly one day. Well, I’m still waiting for my curly hair, Em.
We quickly became friends along with Louise who started at this job the same week I did. The three of us spent a lot of time together running around New York City as well as the Jersey Shore, Atlantic City and Las Vegas, laughing, dancing, going out for cocktails, going to concerts, dinners and more. We were each other’s sounding boards for all things related to work and the world of New York City PR. In a way we grew up together, going from early 20 somethings trying to figure out if we had made the right career choice, to becoming well established in our careers into our 30s. While our friendship began out of work and our hours and hours of endless conversation and laughter often focused on that, our relationship blossomed into so much more.
Emily was one of the first people I called to talk about this cute Australian boy I met at a bar. Soon after I met this boy, Em and I spent a summer beach weekend together on the North Fork. Unfortunately for Emily, it rained the whole time so she had no choice but to listen to me talk and obsess about this boy I met. But she did so with such enthusiasm and interest. Years later we’d joke about that weekend and I’d apologize for boring her but she always said she didn’t mind as that’s the kind of friend she was. Emily was one of the first people I called when I got engaged to that boy I obsessed about on our rainy weekend away together. She was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant. She was one of the first people I’d call or meet up with when I had high’s or low’s relating to work and I just needed to talk. She was at most of my birthday gatherings, unless of course that was her vacation week at the Shore. Having a late July birthday, it often fell over her vacation week. She’d called me up to wish me a happy birthday and offer to come into the city for the night to go out but I wouldn’t let her. I never minded if she skipped my birthday for the Shore as it meant so much to her to be there with her family. She would have though had I said yes as that’s the kind of friend she was. She was at my bridal shower, led a conga line with Louise at my bachelorette party, was at my wedding, my baby shower. She came to see me at home in the final weeks of my pregnancy when I could barely move. She came to the hospital when my daughter, Fiona, was born. She was one of the first people to meet and lovingly hold her. She knit my daughter a hat when she was a baby and gave her the book, ‘Guess How Much I Love You’. She often came out to my house to see my daughter and play with her. Fiona can be shy and doesn’t often take to people she doesn’t see regularly but no matter how much time passed since she last saw Emily, she always warmed to her immediately. I told Emily, the last time she saw Fiona which was this summer when she came over, you’re the Fiona Whisperer.
In other words, Emily was one of the greatest cheerleaders of my life. Always there to support, encourage, smile and be happy for me. Even when much of these milestones I just touched on happened over the last 3 ½ years while she was battling the disease. She never wavered, she never faltered in her friendship. She never, ever let her situation stand in the way of being an incredible friend to me and to all of you here today. I know she was a great cheerleader to all of you here today.
As I know we all have, I've spent a lot of time in recent days and weeks thinking about Emily.  When I think of her, the following words come to mind...happiness, giving, loving, gracious, gentle, the world's best laugh, sharp wit, heart of gold, great taste in music, wonderful writer, excellent proof reader, smart, the best sounding board on any topic, great listener, fun, and... hopeful, despite everything she faced these last few years, she was always full of hope.  Two other words that come to mind are, great smile.  Here is a quote from one of her favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, "It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living."  Em's smile was always sunny and made all our days worth living.
The most important trait though about Em, is that…she is the kindest person I know. You knew when you called Em or saw her, she’d be happy, cheery and kind – no matter how dark a day she may have been having. I have learned a lot from Emily in our nearly 15-year friendship and have learned a lot from her through the incredible way in which she handled her disease. But I think the thing I want to make sure I carry most as a learning experience and a way to honor Emily, is to always be kind, as she was to all of us. There’s the expression, be kinder than you feel. I have often thought of that expression…I don’t know why but it’s something that has stuck with me years. But I’m no longer going to think, be kinder than you feel. Rather, I’m going to think, be kind, like Emily. She gave me so many gifts in life and even though my heart will never fully be the same without her, I will take the lesson of, be kind, like Emily, as a learning and a gift from her.
So in closing, thank you, to everyone here for being here at this moment, thank you for loving Emily. Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Easter for giving the world the gift of your incredible daughter. Let’s all remember the Easter and Kirner families as well as Emily’s extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and her grandfather - in our thoughts and prayers for many, many years to come. We need to be there for them to not only lift them up but to also keep Emily’s memory, spirit and legacy alive.
And Emily, I say to you, we love you, we miss you, we are sad to not have you here with us but we all find peace in knowing you’re in a better place and with your grandparents. We will all see you again one day. Save me a beach chair and a cocktail please.  
And to quote the final page of the book you gave my daughter, 'Guess How Much I Love You', "Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, 'I love you right up to the moon - and back'."  We all love you to the moon and back, Em.

Celebrating Emily's Life - Part 2

Sara's Eulogy for Emily:

We are here today to celebrate an amazing life.  I really believe that a person is never truly gone as long as they are loved and remembered by those of us left behind.  The outpouring of support and love for Emily has been so comforting and has been present from the moment she began her journey.  In fact she often had a waiting list of friends that wanted to accompany her to her various treatments and appointments.  I want you to all know that Emily was a person that truly loved and admired her friends and she was so lucky to have all of you in her life.   Growing up and even her in adult life Emily never liked change or missing out on things.  She loved to laugh and also treasured little traditions.  I insist that you all continue to take Emily with you from now on.  Share your memories about her, tell funny Em stories and continue to do the little traditions that she was a part of with you.  I know for myself this is going to be so hard, but I know that it will make her happy that we will do them.
Emily absolutely loved and adored her niece and nephew, Claire and Benjamin.  She made every effort to visit with them as often as she could.   We also video chatted with them and she insisted that I text her little pictures and videos of their everyday life.  We discussed what a tragedy it is that she will not be here as they grow up but she really feels that she will be somehow be able to see them, and this is a comfort for me.  I know I will talk about her often and they will always know how much she loved them.
I’m sure you have heard the quote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”  That describes Emily exactly.  We have all talked about how extraordinary Emily was through her courageous fight.  She shared her experiences and thoughts in such a personal and touching way that reached beyond her friends and family.  In fact her blog has over 39,000 page views.   Being faced with cancer did not change Emily; she had all of that thoughtful, optimistic, and genuine care for others long before she was faced with such an uncertain future.  Emily and I spent so many times just laughing about silly things that probably only the two of us found funny.  She never wasted a precious moment asking why this was happening.  She just dealt with her situation with grace and dignity.    So many times it was easy to forget she was battling such a disease because she kept a positive attitude and normal life.  If her strength and courage, and our love for her were enough, she would have lived to a 100. 

Rest in peace, Emily.  I love you.

Celebrating Emily's Life - Part 1

We have been very touched and comforted by the outpouring of sympathy for the loss of our Emily.  Her funeral services were yesterday and we wanted to post the eulogies for those that were unable to attend.

Dad’s Eulogy for Emily
October 2, 2013

A few years ago Jan and I attended a concert where Elton John sang “life is wonderful with you in the world” and Billy Joel sang “The Good Die Young”.  They both could have been singing about Emily.

Emily was a joy every day of her life and yes, she died way too young.  Vigorous people who lead healthy lifestyles and who make good decisions are not supposed to die at 35.  It is just not fair.

But that is what has happened.

Our hearts are absolutely broken over our loss.

At a time of great loss it helps to focus on what we still have.

One thing that we have is the knowledge that Emily’s life was a life well lived.  She excelled academically and graduated from Villanova University with honors.  She had a career in Public Relations that she absolutely loved.  Over the years she steadily advanced to positions with greater responsibility – she even was promoted earlier this year.
Emily was able to travel extensively.  She went to Europe 11 times, had multiple trips to Tahiti & Bora Bora, visited Hawaii, several places in the Caribbean and just about any nice place you can think of the the Continental United States.
She had many talents but her special talent was writing.  I just love reading things she wrote.  She will never be able to produce that novel that she had in her head.
It was always important to Emily to do things correctly.  She would think and think on virtually everything she did until it was just right whether it be a client presentation or selecting the perfect greeting card.
Emily developed great and lasting friendships at every stage of her life from grade school on.  She had wonderful friends and she was a good friend.

Another thing that we have is happy memories.  We are a close knit family and truly enjoyed countless times together whether it be a trip, a walk on the beach or watching a game together.  Emily had a wide range of interests including literature, her music, knitting, sports and spending quality time with her family and friends.  Emily battled cancer for 3 ½ years – 10% of her life.  The day we met Dr. Sara he told her that she was Emily; not Emily the cancer patient.  He said to continue to make happy memories and we did just that including many great times at the shore this season.  We would not have had  3 ½ years worth of additional happy memories without the tremendous care and effort of Dr. Sara and the amazing team at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital.  Dr. Sara is with us this morning – thank you Dr. Sara.

One other thing that we will have is Emily’s legacy.  She fought her battle with the monster that is breast cancer with courage, strength, dignity and class.  She never once said “poor me”.  Through her blog and other communications during this battle many people got to see what we knew all along – the wonderful person that was Emily.  Many people have remarked that her attitude, candor and humor during this battle were inspirational – what a fine compliment for our sweet Emily.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as we say good bye to Emily today I want to thank each and every one of you for the part you played in enriching the life of Emily Christine Easter.  Good bye sweetheart.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rest in Peace Emily

It is with great sadness to announce that our Emily passed away yesterday September 27, 2013 at 1:25pm.  Her passing was peaceful, and she was at our family home surrounded by family and friends.
The past couple of days her condition rapidly declined and by Friday morning she was unable to walk and could barely speak.  She did not seem to be in pain, although we administered her medication to make sure she was comfortable.   Her last morning was a beautiful sunny day and she had an amazing visit with some friends.  There was lots of love and laughter surrounding her final hours. Even though Emily was extremely weak and mostly uncommunicative we know she was able to hear us.  She was also able to see her beloved niece and nephew.
As we could tell her condition was dire, we contacted our local parish and the priest came to our home to give Emily her last rites.  When her time came it was very peaceful and she was with the ones she loved.
Even though we know this was going to occur we are still shocked at the speed of how fast everything happened.  In true Emily fashion, we can look at the bright side of this and know that for almost all of her 3 ½ years since she was diagnosed she led a very happy, healthy, and as normal life as possible.  In fact, it was often easy to forget at times she was battling this horrific disease as she did with such strength, courage, and dignity.  We feel peace and comfort knowing that Emily is now free of pain and sickness and has gone on to a much better place.
Thank you, Emily’s Entourage, for your amazing support, prayers, and love.

Her obituary and arrangements will be posted here later today:  http://saulfuneralhomes.com/

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Emily's Extraordinary Entourage

Emily is blessed to have so many people who care about her and who have offered supportive messages during this most difficult time.  With Emily’s current condition she cannot respond to the many email, text, voice mail and blog messages she has received.  She sleeps most of the time and is extremely weak.  For example, she cannot get out of a chair or go up or down stairs by herself anymore and she now has oxygen to help her breathe.  Please understand that Emily treasures each message and definitely feels and appreciates the love and support you are all providing.

For those of you who have scheduled visits, we believe you should come as planned but please understand that Emily is less responsive than any of us would like to see.  In typical Emily fashion she has “risen to the occasion” on most visits and has enjoyed them very much.

Also, so many of you have sincerely asked what you can do.  Unfortunately the only thing that most can do for Emily is to pray for her.  Our whole family is comforted by and appreciates the support and prayers that are being offered.  We will continue to provide updates.