this last weekend, friends from across the country traveled to phoenix for tone's funeral. i think we were all expecting for the funeral to make it feel more real, but there's still something so surreal about the situation.
it was an unfamiliar feeling for all of us to be together for anything but a celebration. early sunday morning, with our husbands by our side, we gathered at our home for long hugs and bittersweet smiles - all in unfamiliar territory. it was so good to finally be together since hearing the news. it was one of the longest weeks ever and distance between us was almost unbearable. we so needed some time together before having to say goodbye to tone.
a rabbi, friends and family all gathered under the desert sun for tone's beautiful graveside service. through the tears, people spoke of tone's love of life and her vibrant spirit. stories were shared that shed light on the many different ways tone had impacted people throughout each stage of her life.
still at her graveside, tone's dad bill embraced each of us. he sweetly whispered comforting words and told us how much she loved her time at arizona - especially being an alpha phi. with a smile, he told us that he knows many of our stories - even the ones he probably shouldn't. as we all stood together in a circle, he reached into the breast pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a photo of us college girls wearing crazy hats. the photo already feels dated and now those memories are sweeter than ever before. it was us. together. happy. we all laughed and smiled together.
we did the same with tone's mom, rita. petite like tone with an eerily similar laugh and mannerisms, we told her stories from our travels across the united states and europe together and then we listened as rita told us tone would be so mad if she knew she was telling people her nickname - sarah pie.
as friends and family from each of tone's 29 years reminisced about her, one of the reoccurring themes was how much she loved to help people. she had a "can do" attitude in her own life and genuinely believed that anyone could accomplish what they put their mind to. one particular story was about one of tone's clients who made jewelery. tone happily agreed to wear her creations to help promote her designs. the woman credits tone with giving her the courage to quit her day job to pursue a full time career in jewelery design and production.
before the services, tiffany gave each of us a little token of remembrance that was handmade by that same woman. we each received a dainty gold bracelet with the symbol for infinity - which also resembles the number 8. perfect. we'll forever remember tone. we'll forever miss her and forever be friends... the eight of us.
we need to remember that life is precious.
just one month ago we were dancing and laughing with tone in las vegas. we voted her "MVP" of the weekend. she arrived full of energy and with a renewed zest for life. she was taking haircuts like a champ and was the good luck charm on the blackjack table. her stories had us laughing so hard we were actually crying. we hadn't seen tone that happy in a long time - she was the very best version of herself and it was wonderful to see. i'll be forever grateful for those moments with tone.
some nice news article's about tone's california memorial here, here and here.
thanks to all our family and friends who've reached out to offer their love, support and condolences. it means a lot.
you just assume that you'll grow old with your girlfriends. that you'll go through ups and downs, but they'll always be there. without a doubt you'll be at each other's weddings and you'll become moms together. we just assumed that there'd forever be eight girls on the email chain to plan weekend getaways and share life's updates. and then, something tragic happens, one of your girlfriends is gone and you're left feeling numb.
on friday, september 14, one of our eight, sarah leaf - better know in our world as "tone" - had her life cut short in a horrible bicycling accident. the news shattered us. each of us in denial, many of the phone calls were silent - girlfriends miles apart just sitting on the line unable to believe the news was true. there's no way this was happening.
in college, tone quickly earned the reputation in "our group" as the girl who would do anything for anyone. she was nicknamed "sarah two-tone" for her two-toned hair color which was shortened to "tone" - and the name stuck. in fact, many people around campus had no idea that sarah was her given name. thinking back to those college days makes me smile. her dorm room that hosted many of our late nights. her purple caboodle. her love of the Guess brand. me and her driving around in "the beast" singing country music at the top of our lungs. coming home to our alley house and finding her laying out on the front stoop in 100+ heat. her saran-wrapped as a butterfly for halloween. her green decor at our house senior year. me and her playing crazy games of racquetball at the rec. her and colby's old-man-old-lady married relationship. her shaking her booty on the dance floor any chance she got. those four years we all spent together - all day, every day - may have been the happiest in our lives.
born and raised in arizona, tone always had big dreams of the california lifestyle. after UA graduation, she packed up her little red car, headed west and made her dreams come true. colby and her shacked up in orange county and for tone, it was love at first sight. she loved (my girlfriends can hear her saying this in her voice) her city and took advantage of everything it had to offer. she spent as much time as possible outside... she'd run on the beach and take long walks. she soaked up california - she loved it. she loved her life. it was the life she had always dreamed of.
not long after settling into her new zip code, tone fueled her passion for health and nutrition. she was incredibly active - running, biking, swimming and training for triathlons with the "tri-divas." tone dedicated both her personal and professional life to being healthy and helping others achieve the same goals she had. she self-built a professional nutrition consulting business and her success can be credited to her love of helping people. she truly cared about each of her clients and wanted them to feel the best they could.
i'll forever remember tone for her crazy recipes and homemade health meals. for her quirky independent ways and never-ending list of errands. for her dedication to her family. for her random love of chocolate martinis and short time working at "the bird." for owning and experimenting with her personal style. for her ability to never complain or hold a grudge. for her quiet yet tenacious spirit. for her infectious laughs and insanely amazing back scratches that she was always happy to oblige me with (boy how i'll miss those). i'll miss her lackadaisical attitude and telling the rest of us to relax and, "you guys, it's not a big deal - haha."
looking through photos i have to smile through the tears. tone's life was cut way too short, but damn did she pack a lot into her 29 years. she really did live it to the fullest. she studied in the south of france and loved to travel. she never missed a girl's weekend or a happy hour. she celebrated each of our milestones with sincerity. the thousands of memories with tone will forever live on in our hearts and minds... the seven of us will make sure of it.
the crazy eight
the eight of us, the night of our university of arizona graduation.
the 8 at the del mar horse races in 2009.
all eight in NYC in 2007.
crammed into jenny's tiny NYC apartment.
all eight of us crammed into a single booth at trident in 2003.
celebrating tone's 22nd birthday in tucson, arizona.
all eight in seattle for shmer & dan's wedding.
all together in phoenix in 2006.
celebrating carlye & jeremy in 2009.
alpha phi pc '01
the eight of us together for a wonderful girl's weekend in manhattan beach. 2010.
acapulco, mexico in 2005.
together in the windy city in spring '09.
the tonehead, stone, tone that we've loved through the years...
i hope these bring back a flood of memories and make you smile.
last week was officially dubbed my "birthaversary" by alicia. my birthday + our wedding anniversary being only days apart and not landing on labor day weekend this year, did make it feel like 10 days of non-stop celebrating. the final to do was last friday night in phoenix when a group of us headed downtown for happy hour at bliss / rebar followed by jammin' out (and time-out) at a local blues bar. thanks to everyone who celebrated with me - and us - last week!
so excited ryan & steph (colton, too) were able to make it. she's 7-months preggo! looks great, huh?
ting tong & ry-guy
love me a tall coffee. get it? like a tall from starbucks. yeah, you probably do.
what are nick & angela starring & laughing at? oh this....
megan and me having a little too much fun with the outside portable AC unit.
and then, we went to Chars...
and it was at chars i got put on time-out by danny. i pouted for some time.
let's be real - griiiiiiillllzzzz loved it, ting. you know he did.
side note: it was only the second time in 7 years that i celebrated my birthday in phoenix.
after a couple of days in portland, we loaded up our ford fusion rental and hit the road to wine country - the town of dundee to be exact, located in the willamette valley.
my parents decided to make the 4.5 hour (each way!) drive from their home in oregon to spend the day with us. well, my dad did. my mom had no idea what was going on and literally jumped when she heard my voice. it was a fun surprise. and since my dad still doesn't have a cell phone, we had to make plans a week earlier to meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Red Hills Market for brunch. we started there and then headed into the dundee hills without any plans but to stop where we wanted and stay as long as we like.
picnic style brunch at the market.
our first stop. literally the SWEETEST Riesling i've ever tasted. vicky & bjoe would have loved it.
feisty little winery cat.
this guy was on a mission for a vineyard with a view. he & his stache found one.
brand new winery with a view. danny got to know the owner.
it was super cute, but they wouldn't sell by the glass or allow you to picnic. lame.
our final winery of the day.
the winery owner picked fresh hydrangea as a bouquet. aww... a bride again.
sexy little devil.
per the inside joke.
daddy's girl for life.
in two days, we went to the red hills market THREE times. first for brunch, where danny spied a "spicy italian pie" but didn't get it. later that same day, we swung by for cheese, crackers & meats... danny ordered the "italian pie" but as we were walking out to start tasting again, he realized that he never got the pie. the chef checked and it was still burning in the oven. dang. so the NEXT morning, danny and i went to the market for coffee and breakfast and danny just HAD to get the "italian pie" for breakfast. they all remembered him from the day before and threw the pie in for free. ha.
your typical, cute wine country market.
day after wine tasting coffee. proudly serving (and drinking!) stumptown. yuuuuum.
danny and his damn italian pie. which wasn't even that good :)
happy camper. nothin' like kicking the morning off with coffee & italian meat pie. bleh.