Last week I shared on the blog that I had suffered a loss in my personal life. My dear friend Eileen Grosse passed away from complications from cancer treatment. I had known her for my entire adult life, and loved her as a family member.
Nine years ago I was lucky enough to give a speech in her honor when she served as Worcester’s Grand Marshal. Today I’d like to share that speech again. Read on for my memories of my dear friend:
Good Evening, my name is Sarah Brassard. I have known “Ike” for almost 30 years. I came as an intern to her store through the Dynamy Program. I was 18 years old and had just been through the death of my father. I don’t remember ever having felt as lost and desperate in life as I was at that time. Eileen took me in. She welcomed me as an employee and brought me to her home, where I was embraced by her family and friends. There is no greater honor given than having the chance to celebrate a life as precious as Eileen’s. There are far too few opportunities to rejoice in the goodness of human nature. To know such a person intimately has been a blessing to me and so many others that have had her walk with them in their lives.
Eileen brings joy to those around her; she is a person that emanates light. She stands for goodness, faith, hope and has the ability to laugh in the darkest of times. There are people that come to this world with greater ability to serve those in need; she is one of those people.
At a very young age she was pulled to fashion. With the help of her father and family she did the impossible in creating a business on the tightest of budgets. Obstacles were everywhere in her quest to bring this business to success, but success was achieved. There was divine guidance in her life and she was clear enough to understand that she had been given an opportunity. Her real job was in service to people, not in selling them clothes, but in caring about their lives and really listening to them. Ike’s Den has facilitated her in that service. Eileen has the ability to empathize with many, her own life experience so rich in knowing tragedy and joy. This is a woman that has known one of life’s extreme losses, that of losing a child. Then, during her second pregnancy with her beloved Ayla, she was diagnosed with cancer. Through it all, her bravery shines through, comforting those around her not to worry. When she and Hank reunited after being apart, a skip returned to my friend’s walk. The love they share is one rooted in years of experiences and traditions. He is the man for her. The happiness that embodies Eileen is from the devotion of those closest to her. She has lifelong friends that surround her in love.
Faith is an intricate part of Eileen; she walks her days holding God’s hand. Her courage astounds those around her. She defies statistics time after time and gently keeps on going. She’ll pick herself up and dust herself off and get back to where she is needed most.
There is a childlike purity to her character. Despite all her achievements she still holds on to the essence of fun in her being. She knows not to take life too seriously. There is always a bright light somewhere in a gloomy picture and she’ll find it.
Eileen has been granted many miracles in her life, making the impossible, possible. Her abiding faith has made this happen. Those of us that know her have hope for watching her. When life looks bleak, turn the page and meditate on Eileen and her journey, and understand deeply then that there is promise in every situation.
My words only speak to a small piece of who my friend really is. The gem of her person is within her. Eileen’s life is a testament to tonight’s tribute. Thank you for recognizing this most extraordinary human being. I love you, Ike.