I recently posted about how we need to drink more champagne and live life to the fullest because you never know what curveball life will throw you.  Little did I know what sad reality was waiting for my family just a few short weeks later. 

It’s amazing how coincidences in life play out.  One of my friends on Twitter is @cleavagecreek, a winery where 10 percent of the gross wine sales is donated to fund breast cancer research and support , sent me several bottles of their wine last week and my plan was to invite my mom and two of my aunts to come and taste them with me.  My Aunt Sue was battling breast cancer and my Aunt Anne, is a long-time survivor.  I wanted to use the wine as an opportunity to celebrate both of their lives and toast survivorship.

Unfortunately I never got that chance.  On Tuesday evening, we received a positive update from my Uncle John reporting that my Aunt Sue had finished her second round of chemo, that everything was going well and they had been released from MDA Anderson to enjoy a night at a hotel.  Several short hours later Sue had an aneurysm and died.

This weekend my family gathered in Austin under the saddest of circumstances to support my two cousins, their families and Sue’s husband, John.  We came to honor a great mom, wife, grandmother, business woman, church leader and friend.  We memorialized her constant smile, her love of family, the people she helped find career direction through her business and how she was a friend and mentor to so many.  We paid tribute to someone who lived life to the fullest, touched so many people in her short 53 years and made it tough to find a single flower left in Austin due to the quantity of arrangements sent to the funeral home.

After the church ceremony and the burial, we went back to the gorgeous home that Sue and John so laboriously renovated – one exquisite detail at a time.  The house was designed for family, for friends, for fellowship and for fun.   At approximately, 6:24 p.m., we came together to toast Sue at sunset, one of her favorite times of day.  Looking down at the city of Austin in its majestic glory, 107 of us raised a glass of 1993 Dom Perignon  Oenotheque,  and paid tribute to her.

As I took that first sip and watched that beautiful sunset with tears in my eyes, I looked around at my family and Sue’s vast network of friends.   There were so many parallels with what I tasted in that glass with the person that Sue was – elegant, balanced, exquisite, one of a kind and even a little nutty (this is, after all, a woman who met her neighbor for the first time wearing a smurf outfit because she invited the neighborhood kids over for a party).   Later I read the booklet included in the box.  Dom Perignon describes this library wine as “a wine whose style defines time.”  I would describe my Aunt Sue the same way.  Dom described when he first tasted champagne as “seeing stars.”  I was lucky to have had 40 years of my life to know another.