Discover more about the authors from Gloria Gemma's Forever In Our Hearts. In this diverse group of strong women and men and their stories, may you find hope and inspiration as you navigate your own journey.
Be Aware of the Butterflies is the story of five of my hardest years. It tells of the journey of losing three of the most important people in my life, my mom, my friend Dana, and my dad to cancer. Although it is a story rooted in loss, sadness, and struggle, it truly is a story of love, learning, and strength. It was in my darkest moments that I was able to discover who I really am and embracing life after so much loss. Through heartache, tears, and a little laughter Be Aware of the Butterflies is the story of life after loss.
I wanted to tell my story initially as a way to honor the ones I loved and lost. Each one of them was incredible in so many aspects and each of their journeys in their own way helped to shape me into the person I am today. But what started as a way for me to tell their stories ultimately turned into a path for healing. Telling their stories allowed me to also share the message that no matter how devastating a hand we are dealt, life does indeed go on. I grew to understand that I needed to tell this story not just for me and my loved ones but for anyone out there who is grieving to let you know it will get better.
I am currently living in Providence, RI with my parents’ dog Halsey. I work as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. I am passionate about helping others become their strongest and healthiest selves. When I’m not in the gym, I love to spend time outside, travel, and eat. I am working to live life to the fullest and make as many memories as I can along the way.
My story is about someone who was my best friend, an amazing mother, wife, etc. This someone who I was so proud to call my mom. My mom and I had a bond like no other. She had me at twenty four, so she was a younger mom. I was blessed to have had her for thirty years, but in reality we both were robbed of time. No matter how old you are in life, a daughter is never prepared to lose their mother. My mom was my biggest cheerleader in life, and the one person who I could always count on. My mom was the one person who supported me, and believed in me more than I believed in myself. Reading this story, it will make you realize how quickly life can change, and to enjoy your life to the fullest. I never thought someone who I loved with my whole heart would have been diagnosed with the big C word. This chapter teaches you and reminds you to show your loved ones how much you love them, and if you do have a loved one who was diagnosed with cancer you are not alone. It is a timeline of her childhood life through her present life until she passed away on July 2nd, 2023
I wanted to share my story with the world for many reasons. I want the world to know how wonderful of a person my mom was, and how strong she really was. It has been eleven months since losing my mom, and I still feel so lost and hold so many emotions as I am still grieving. After losing my mom, nothing has been easy. I had hit rock bottom, but am slowly getting back on my feet. My mom was young when she passed, and I had made a promise to my mom how her spirit would live on forever so that is exactly what I am doing by writing about her journey. Not only did I promise my mom that we would keep her spirit alive, but the cancer she was diagnosed with that you are about to read about unfortunately is not curable. I wanted to write about her journey and be a voice for those who are battling this cancer and any cancer to hope one day there will be a cure. Until then we as the family have to be the advocate to keep fighting and not give up hope. That was one thing my mom always told me “ Always have hope, never stop fighting, but most of all, pray.”
I am thirty years old and come from Rhode Island. I have a big heart and loves to help others. I am an independent single woman, who has nephews and a niece that I love like my own. I wish nothing more than having been able to have my mom to read this story, and know how much she was loved not only by me but all those who knew her.
My chapter follows the timeline of my life both before my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis and after she passed away. Through this story you will grow to understand my personal relationship with my mother as well as how much she has impacted my life and helped me to become the man I am today.
I wanted to share my story to help those who may have recently lost a loved one to know that life does move forward and those we love will always be with us and are never really gone. I also wanted those who never had the chance to meet my mother to get a glimpse of what kind of woman she was and the impact she had on my life.
I currently live in Downtown Providence with my boyfriend and am a kindergarten special education teacher. I run both in half marathons and full marathons. My love of Star Wars continues to this day and I recently have gotten into bartending. I continue to be heavily involved in the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation to continue my mother’s legacy and help those affected by breast cancer.
This story is about my mother and her fight with cancer; how she lived her life before and after cancer. I watched my mother go from this energetic vibrant person to this in pain, worried and sad person. I pictured my mother living until her nineties with great grandchildren. She had a beautiful life. In my lifetime I never imagined her life would end to breast cancer. I am grateful I spent thirty-seven years of my life with her, toward the end she said to me “be happy and be with the people who love you”. I will forever follow those words until my last breath.
I wanted to share my story because I know the feeling of being lost without a loved one, with kind words it helps ease some of those sad days. Losing someone that completely understood you leaves a hole in your heart that no one can fill. I have been living with this for a few years, it hurts. With a hug, a glass of wine and good conversation your mind drifts away from grief for a moment. Those moments away from grief are wonderful and I wanted my story to have that moment to whomever reads it. I believe life was never intended to be easy but to be always in the “moment”. My mother’s presence and grace were just that.
I am energetic, loving, caring and funny. I am a wife and a mother. I have a beautiful five-year-old son named Andre; he was diagnosed with autism three years ago and is non-verbal. He is the most beautiful little boy you would ever meet. He loves hugs, tickles and kisses. He has brought me joy in my darkest times. I am beyond grateful for him. My mother was able to see him come into this world and enjoy him for two years, I am blessed she had time with him. Three years ago I started working for The Fogarty Center, it was life changing for me, feeling more appreciated job and learning about adults and children with disabilities, they have helped me find resources and help for my son. I am happy they found me.
If you ever would like to connect with me, please email me at Jeanetteking@yahoo.com
This is a story about the best mother in the world. I’m sure most daugh- ters feel this way about their mothers but read all about my Mami in my chapter. My mom had me at the age of seventeen. I had forty-three amazing years of being her daughter, her Queen. We had and continue to have an extremely strong bond. When I was twenty-five years old, I quit my job at a salon. My mom believed in me more than myself. She refinanced the house and gave me the money to open my own shop in 2004. Nineteen years later I am still a small business owner of Executive Cuts at 15 Peck St., Downtown Providence, RI 02903. The way cancer has run rampant through my family has altered our lives completely. I used to think it couldn’t get worse, but I no longer think that. It can always get worse.
Writing has propelled my grief in such a cathartic way. Reevaluating my life, my relationship with family and friends. Learning who loves me unconditionally the way my Ma used too. Not many do. My circle has gotten smaller and smaller but it’s about quality not quantity. I wanted to share our story to help others try to get through their grief. Grief is so fluid. I’m only forty-two weeks into living without my mother. I am relearning who I am now. She made me such a strong woman. The way life continues to happen without her feels surreal. There are so many moments I want to run and tell her some news and it hits like a ton of bricks. She’s not here!
She always wanted me to continue my education. Now that I am dual-licensed, she cannot rejoice with me, but I know she sees all my and all her loved ones’ accomplishments. She was EVERYONE’S Wela after all.
In my story, I write about a beautiful soul we called Nurse Rachel. Unfor- tunately, she will not have the chance to read about herself. Rachel, I hope my mom was waiting for you. The beautiful girls you left behind, Noel and Joy, have my devoted support. May you both rest in eternal peace.
Rachael Lynne Cassidy, January 10, 1975 – June 9, 2023
Connect with Jennifer:
Cell phone: 401-419-0546
This was and will be the hardest time of my existence. It’s the story of how the love of my life, my guy, was taken unfairly away from me by cancer. Leaving me to live the rest of my days without him physically. It’s about seeing a strong man, who I love dearly, decline in health and helping him the best way I knew how. To learn there is life and happiness after a massive loss and coming to terms with the struggles of grief.
I’m an introvert and it’s hard for me to share my feelings, never mind writing them down. I took this opportunity to help me process my feelings and to learn how to express myself through writing. It hasn’t been easy, but it gave me a state of peace. I hope that by sharing my story with others who are in a struggling stage of grief, that they can feel they aren’t alone, and maybe if they see I can do it, they can do it too.
I’m a woman who misses her soulmate every day. I had to relearn how to live and to find happiness on my own after his passing. I enjoy gardening, spin class, volunteering through Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, and reading. I’m very passionate about my career, which helps keep me on track obtaining my goals. My family is the light of my life and I’m so fortunate to have them. They bring me so much joy and happiness watching each one of them grow and thrive. I love them dearly.
Donna was my sister and my everything to me, and I would do anything for her. I wrote this story from my heart and how I remember her life through my eyes.
I tell my story because there are thousands of people living who share this same experience. I want to make sure Donna’s story doesn’t get lost. Even after she was diagnosed, her personality shined through. She contin- ued to smile, to care for those around her, and to be grateful for every day. She wore it well.
I am a product of my upbringing. I come from a large family and we didn’t have much but we had each other. I am proud of who I am and what I have overcome and a lot of that is because of my sister, Donna. I would not be who I am if not for her.
My chapter is not only about who my mom was as a person but also who she is as my guardian angel through life and through my own journey with cancer. Throughout my life since my mom’s passing, I have felt her presence all around me, showing signs when I needed it the most. In the 90’s, they didn’t have the type of support they do now for kids that lose their parents too early. Since I didn’t trust going to a therapist, I had to rely on my support system, which was a mix of family and friends, to get me through my worst days as I learned how to live without my mom.
It’s so hard losing a loved one at any age and I hope that this can help those who are going through it at such a young age. Social media wasn’t what it is today so I didn’t have that outlet to share my mom’s story and to honor her memory. I’ve always wanted a way to share her story, so when the Gloria Gemma Foundation posted about this project, I was really excited. I’m so happy to be given this opportunity to share my mom’s story and to continue to keep her memory alive.
My name is Melissa Bouchard and I grew up in Cranston, RI. My hus- band and I have been together for seventeen years and we just celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary in March. We have a beautiful eight- year-old daughter who is truly the love of our lives and is so beautiful inside and out. I graduated from JWU in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in business management and after many years in the restaurant business, I left and joined the corporate world. September will mark eight years that I’ve worked for my current employer, Schneider Electric. I was diagnosed with stage II triple-negative breast cancer in October of 2020 and after chemo, radiation, and many surgeries, I was able to celebrate being two years cancer-free in April.
This is the journey of the warrior, Elizabeth, descendant of la Isla del Encanto. She would go on to master and share her gifts with the world, forging three of her very own, to bestow upon the Island of Rhode. Her second born, she would call Sara Melissa Vazquez, first of her name. The center of her power of three and as time would have it, they would multiply, making her forces unstoppable.
I wanted to write to honor my mother and because it has served as an outlet for me. I have always been reluctant and maybe even timid to share any of my work with anyone outside of my circle. It comes as no surprise that my mom found a way to bring me the courage or that my first published work would be of me telling her story through my lens. It is very fitting and humorous. She always loved to tell a story. She could find any moment where one of her stories would apply or enhance. She knew what she knew too because nothing has been more gratifying and healing than being able to read the stories she left in writing and print. You see, she is still teaching lessons here. I plan to take heed and do the same for my boys and for anyone that may receive anything beneficial from the words that I write.
In the meantime, I will continue my work as a mother and advocate for my children and for the individuals I serve in the healthcare field. When I have the luxury of carving out some “me” time, I love to balance myself through travel. I would also say that writing, reading and being a voice to injustice is a hard number two.
This chapter involves my thoughts and feelings regarding the loss of my mother, Elizabeth Cardona and trying to process that grief. I hope seeing the world the way she did will help answer some of my questions, stay connected with her, and begin healing. Sharing this story proved to be very difficult, but if I can even reach one person who feels similarly, then I’m happy and following in the footsteps of my mother.
My family and friends know me as Eddy. I was born in Providence, Rhode Island. I’m the youngest of three children and a momma’s boy through and through. While I enjoy the occasional moment of solitude, I’m better known for my loud personality and all that it entails. Growing up I was definitely amongst the more extroverted. During my early years as an adult I moved to California, circa 2008. I consider myself to be “west coast living but east coast at heart.” I love exploration and indulging in my creative side. I enjoy culture, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends, as well as writing, dancing, performing, and more. I usually write poetry but I do have a keen interest in one day writing short stories. My story is about the gifts that came to me by being willing to forgive the perpetrator, forgive my parents, and forgive myself. I lived decades as a victim, numbing my feelings, choosing unhealthy men to love, and feeling unworthy. My life today is magnificent. It is a gift to live each day from a place of serving from my heart and helping women learn how to love themselves unconditionally.