I wrote a letter to a friend’s mom just before she died. I never met her and wanted to thank her.
I never got the chance. I hesitated on sending it, wondering if it would look stupid. She died just four days later.
I talk a lot about finding a friend as you step into this work. And this particular mom had given me a great one.
We met in 2010 when a friend introduced us to talk about food. It was an immediate friendship.
Flash forward about four and a half years, and there we were standing in front of a crowd of parents talking about our food, families and our fundamental human right to know what is going into the food we feed our loved ones. We were talking about a ballot initiative, #Yeson105, in Colorado to label genetically engineered ingredients in our food.
I couldn’t help but think of everything we’d seen in our work together. My heart gets too big for my chest sometimes, and it makes my eyes leak. I was told not to make it a kumbaya thing.
As we stood in front of the Colorado Moms for Labeling group, we discussed how as Americans we haven’t been told that our food now contains genetically engineered ingredients designed to withstand chemicals like the weedkiller Roundup. 64 countries around the world have been given this information. We haven’t. It is a fundamental human right, an American thing, a civil rights thing.
But it is also a love thing. The reason that it hurts so much to learn this—that ingredients have been hidden in our food while American companies label them for families in other countries—is because we are losing loved ones to conditions like cancer, diabetes or food allergies, and there is grief. You want to hit it away. But you can’t, because underneath the grief is love. It is a rocket fuel.
You could see it in the meeting. You could feel it. It was what had brought us together. It had been an invitation to moms that day, but dads were there, babies, little ones and others.
And again, as I listened to this friend talk, I looked out at those in front of us, knowing what they had been through, their courage and what brought us together—this love we have for our families and country.
And as we packed everything away that day, I thought of my friend’s mom.
What I’d wanted to tell her was “Thank you. Thank you for raising such an awesome son. Someone brilliant and strong who gives his heart and talent to this work to make the world a better place. Thank you for giving me such an incredible friend.”
As we do this work, all of us, in memory of those that we love—moms, friends who have lost little ones, and others that I never met like Emily, Giovanni, Roman, Debbie and so many more—it reminds me every day that love is more powerful than fear.
We see it here in Colorado, around the country and around the world, as we work to Vote Yes on 105, Yes on 92 and www.justlabelit.org.
Love is such a rocket fuel. We are only here once. Be brave. It will be our legacy.
Written in memory of Dixie.