Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Hope Tree

Our blog has been quiet for awhile, but now I think we're ready to become aquainted again. Crystal has lived on through our memories and prayers, and now she will be able to continue her quest of helping those through cancer in a most unique way.

Carol Jeanotilla, a friend of Jason's, is an amazing artist who has been working on "The Hope Tree". You can see Jason and Carol in the picture above. Crystal wore a locket during her treatment that looked like a treasure chest. She kept all of her hopes and dreams safely tucked inside. Now the locket has become part of the sculpture, Jason was able to place it there himself.

Here, Jason is able to place a note from family members inside of one of the branches that will be sealed inside. You can see a camera man behind Jason filming a documentary that will follow the tree for one year.

The photo above shows the crucifix from Crystal's service inside the base of the tree. What a lovely reminder of how her memory will be forever helping new cancer patients who visit this beautiful sculpture. It was Crystal's dream to be a nurse since she was a little girl. She was able to help so many through their journeys with cancer. Now her dream of a long nursing career can be realized through the strength she showed during her illness, and now with her memories being held inside of this beautiful tree of hope.

The sculpture will be installed on October 11, 2009 (if construction follows the schedule) at the Martin O'Neil Cancer Center on the beautiful St. Helena Hospital Campus. The dedication ceremony will take place November 20, 2009.
I hope that I will be able to visit the tree in the future. It was so amazing to see itas a work in progress. The completed sculpture will have a bronze base, the tree itself will be platinum, and there will be a cape of copper that will envelop the tree as a symbol of a nurses cape. The artist Carol Jeanotilla started out her career out as a nurse before she became an artist full time. She was able to combine her caring nature and her art into the most amazing symbol of healing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Best Friend

I find myself wanting to call her often to share my day with her; as we always did since childhood. She is the one person I need to talk to and comfort me at this time, but I realize her absence is the reason my heart aches and the tears continue to run down my face.
My memories and dreams now are the places I keep her alive; the place I can touch, talk, laugh, and even cry with her. I had a dream the other night that I was sitting at her funeral and she walked up, sat beside me, and wrapped her arms around me. (Ahhh, i needed that). I woke up with such peace. Crystal said in our last phone call, " I'll watch over you." I know now she lives in my heart.
I apologize for those who don't know me, my name is Alicia and I am the lucky one who was given the title " Crystal's Best Friend". Crystal and I lived around the corner where our parents still own homes today. We started our friendship at age eight riding bikes, playing hopscotch, and jump rope in the middle of the street. We always walked to and from school and often played at the park right above our elementary school. Crystal was so funny I often peed my pants(literally). Crystal would yell, " The slide's wet!" I would say,"I know, it must have rained last night." She accepted that answer. It was not until recently that I shared the story with my daughter who just had to know if Crystal knew that I had peed my pants that day. Crystal grinned, nodded, and said yes. We did not embarassed one another, never boasted, or bragged.One was never more proud than the other; as a matter of fact, we were each others biggest fan.
Our friendship went on to middle school and high school where our music, hairstyles, and friends changed. Most of our friends did not know the special bond Crystal and I had or that we were friends at all. It was rare that we hung out at school; we would have our occassional lunch and pass notes in the hall. But one thing for sure, we always started and ended our day with a phone call to say, " Meet me at the corner," were we would share our day. It was like that even as we grew older when she would call me on my way to work and on her way home.
Before we had graduated high school, Crystal had told me:
she wanted to be a nurse; and she was, she told me she would have three kids; and she did, she said we would be best friends forever; and we are and will always be, she said that we would baptize each others daughter; and we did.
Crystal had a plan and a purpose and I am happy that she was able to check those things off her list.
I will always cherish our very special bond that survived high school, boys, college, our move to different states, and many miles apart could not break our lasting friendship. I have pride in the many years Crystal and I shared and the deep roots that anchor our friendship. AND I AM PROUD TO BE HER BEST FRIEND. Alicia

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eulogy for my sister Crystal

Eulogy by Cindy Archuletta

My name is Cindy and I am Crystal's older sister.

First I would like to thank all family and friends for coming out to Celebrate Crystal's life and we have to remember that this IS a CELEBRATION OF A GREAT WOMAN'S LIFE. I would also like to express my family's gratitude and great appreciation to the three amazing and awesome women that helped Crystal when she was diagnosed with Cancer. Cherie, Ellen and Dee. Thank you for walking with Crystal during this difficult time. You were there when some of us couldn't be due to living back home in California. You were the wind beneath her wings.

I am 3 years older than Crystal but she took the role of big sister until my mid twenties. At that time I started the journey of recovery. Crystal was very supportive and proud of me. As I learned to be responsible and accountable our relationship bloomed. We were tied by blood but also shared an amazing friendship that only sisters can understand.

Crystal's journey brought her to Colorado almost 10 years ago. I struggled with this. I not only lost my sister but Best Friend. I had always imagined Crystal and I living close to each other and seeing one another on a regular basis. I thought our children would grow up together and we would share spaghetti dinners or watch DVDs, actually I think it was VHS back then. I saw this with my mom and her sisters and wanted that for us. I figured Crystal would come back home after completing her RN program. When Crystal met Jason I realized that the likelihood of her coming back home had diminished. Crystal fell in love. Things didn't turn out the way I had wanted but one look at Crystal's face showed me that they had turned out just the way they were supposed to. Crystal took a single father and his son, Gaven, and closed the circle to make a family.

Crystal was a loving wife and devoted mother. She had many other roles but being a wife and mother were the two most important. Crystal laid down a strong foundation and Jason and her were able to build on that. They created a home based on love, respect, patience and tolerance. Jason, Gaven, Aiden and Rylee were everything to her. Her love for them kept her going.

I will miss my sister more than words can say. She lit up a room She made you want to be a better person. She is and will always be my hero. We will never know the why..why this happened? ..why her? But what I do know is that every single one of us sitting in this room and those who are not were blessed to have come across an amazing woman. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to be a part of her life and see her handle her illness with Grace and Dignity till the very end. I hope we can all remember she lives on in our heart, thoughts and memories. Most importantly, Crystal lives on through her children. She loved and adored them so much and I believe she continues to from the heavens above.

I was playing around with Crystal's name to see what I could come up with and this is what I got.
C - Caring, Courageous and Compassionate
R - Role Model, Responsible and Radiant
Y - Your Inspiration and Mine
S - Signified Strength and Self Respect..Special and Survivor
T- Thoughtful and trustworthy
A - Amazing and Admired by many
L - Loving Mother and Wife, Loyal Friend

Thank you...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hi, my name is Christine, and I met Crystal when we were both working at St. Joseph Hospital. Since the moment she told me about her cancer I wanted to help. I never felt like I was doing enough. I had told Crystal that I wanted to do a poker fundraising tournament for her and her family. She was really excited for it. I posted the information 2 days before her very untimely passing. I would still like to plan the tournament, but feel it would be better to let some time pass. I will post the date once it is finalized, and I hope to have many of her friends and family come to support Jason and the kids.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eulogy for Crystal

Eulogy for Crystal LaGrange by Jason LaGrange
I would like to thank all of you for joining us today to celebrate Crystal’s life. My name is Jason and I am honored to be here today as Crystal’s husband and father to our beautiful children Gaven, Aiden, and Rylee.
I met Crystal 8-years ago…she was enjoying a quiet evening after work with her friend Antonella until I decided to interrupt their conversation to introduce myself. Antonella played along, but Crystal made it clear that she had no interest what-so-ever. Usually I would have walked away and had a good laugh with my buddies, but this was no ordinary encounter. Her dismissal caused me to reevaluate all of my corney lines and after hours of trial and error…maybe even fatigue…she gave in and we all decided to go out.
We had a great evening and as we made our way back to her car Crystal and Antonella found my CD collection and pulled out a copy of OMD. This is not a very masculine CD and I thought for sure they would jump out of the car in laughter, but they continued to play along. We made it back to their car, exchanged numbers, and Crystal gave me a kiss on the cheek. The next day I pulled out my cell phone to give Crystal a call and noticed a number with only 9 digits – I couldn’t believe I messed up the number.
A couple of weeks went by and no call from Crystal. Then one morning I decided to pull out the infamous OMD CD and to my surprise it had been replaced by a note from Antonella. My eyes lit up and I now had Crystal’s phone number. I gave her a call and we set our 2nd date – she even agreed to return the CD.
Plans were set and as I made my way to 14th and Pearl…which was not a great neighborhood at the time… I was surprised to see how quiet it was. A few months later I learned that Crystal had called 911 to report unusual activity before I arrived so the cops had just cleared everyone out. Looking back I think we were both pulling out all stops to make sure this was the perfect date – and it was. We had so much in common even though we came from very different backgrounds.
Throughout the next 4 years we had a blast dating, meeting new friends, visiting our families, purchasing our first home, and enjoying our engagement. It seemed as if everything was aligned just right for us as everything came so easy. Crystal’s laughter would light up any room, her compassion for all was unmatched by anyone I have ever met, she was dedicated to family, she knew how to have a great time under all circumstances, and possessed a responsible/professional ethic that inspired us all.
In 33 years Crystal accomplished her goals. As a teenager she dreamed of becoming a nurse and over the past 8 years she has touched so many with her kind hands and moral support. Here among us today are patients and co-workers she has touched throughout her amazing career. We are all better off to have known such a beautiful person.
She learned how to snowboard, mountain bike, play golf…thanks to uncle Randy, enjoyed hiking and even decided to complete a marathon just a few months after giving birth to Aiden. This is the first time I really noticed her competitive spirit – not only did she train and complete the race in an amazing time she beat me by more than and hour…and even more impressive she beat her dad by a couple of minutes.
Crystal wanted to see other parts of the world and had the opportunity to visit Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands. And most of all she dreamed of having a happy marriage and children to call her own. Despite her abbreviated time on earth Crystal accomplished these dreams and lived a complete life!
A special thanks needs to go out to Crystal’s mother Alma. Alma made sure Crystal was prepared to be a very special wife, mother, and nurse. The compassion, patience, stability, and personality we all grew to love was inspired and formed by a mother’s unconditional love and guidance.
Crystal used these tools to create a very special home for me and our children. She welcomed Gaven into her life with open arms and embraced responsibilities far greater than anyone could have imagined. From trips to and from Hockey, Basketball, Baseball, you name it Crystal was there. When it was time to do chores Crystal made sure Gaven did his part…I was always a bit soft when it came to taking out the trash or putting our clean clothes away…but she taught him the importance of working together as a family.
Aiden was the realization of her dream of motherhood. She was so excited when she learned that she was pregnant and enjoyed every single day of her pregnancy. Even when her ankles were swollen, or her back hurt, or she was stuck in labor, she cherished the experience. Crystal always commented that Aiden had his mother’s heart, his acts of kindness, gentle touch, and laughter made Crystal smile every day.
Rylee was the completion of our family. Crystal always dreamed of having a family of 5 in some combination of boys and girls and when Rylee arrived she felt like her life was complete. Crystal loved Rylee so much and was looking forward to walking thru life with her daughter. Late at night Crystal often teased me about getting prepared for Rylee’s first kiss, date, proms, marriage, children, and more. I know Crystal will remain with all of us in one way or another, but I think there will always be a special connection between Crystal and Rylee. In fact, I believe Crystal will live on through our children – especially her “little mamas” Rylee.
Crystal was the most appreciative person I have ever met. She was thankful for everything and envious of nothing. Remarkably, in her last hour it was very important for her to reach out to friends and family to thank them for their support. I challenge you to think about what you would do if you only had an hour to live and I think you will see what a special life we are celebrating. If Crystal was standing here now I know she would tell everyone here to be thankful and appreciative for every moment of every day, regardless of the circumstances – we may not have her courage or that final hour!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Eulogy to Crystal

Is she really gone?? I keep waiting for my 6 am phone call. Yesterday Jason called and the caller ID came up as Crystal and if only for a second I forgot about the last couple of weeks and thought it was her. I am not one to question God because He has always taken good care of me but I lately I have been asking Him...WHY?? I want to crawl into a cave and stay there but instead I go about my life in a robot like manner. I wonder when the pain will go away, probably never. I miss her so much.

At the funeral a few of us gave Eulogies to Crystal. I asked to speak. I knew I had a lot to say, but I wondered if I could actually do it. I think we all did. Jason got up and did his Eulogy. I was next. Jason's Eulogy was a hard act to follow. It was so beautiful. However, I knew if he could do it, I could do it. I got up and took two or three deep breaths and started to speak and suddenly something over took me. I am certain it was Crystal. I think she gave us all the power, the strength and the courage to get up and speak without breaking down. Jason, Cindy, Cherie and Ellen gave the most amazing eulogies. Everyone spoke about different aspects of Crystal's life. In the end everyone wase filled with words, stories and personal memories about the amazing woman that we all knew and love.

We talked about posting all of the eulogies on the blog to share with everyone. Up until now, I haven't had the nerve, desire or courage to look at my eulogy. But I noticed that no one else had posted their eulogies and I really want to see everyone else's again so I figured I would go first.

It has been over 17 years since I last went to college. My writing is gramatically horrible. I just write how I speak. Sometimes the periods and commas are in the wrong spots. Forgive me for that and remember that I write from deep in my heart and soul.


My Eulogy to Crystal
The phone ringing at 6 o’clock in the morning isn’t most people’s idea of a great way to start the day. In my world, the sound of the phone ringing at 6 o’clock in the morning was the sound that put the first smile of the day on my face. Because I knew it was my Crystal and I would usually have her undivided attention for at least 30 minutes while she was driving to work.

Hi my name is Trish. I am Crystal’s cousin and her biggest fan although I think I would have to fight off a few of you who think you might be her biggest fan. But don’t even think about it….I would fight you until the bitter end and am sure that I would win. Crystal was more than a cousin. She was a best friend and the sister I never had rolled up into one great big package. I want to thank all of you for being here to celebrate the life of an amazing woman who did everything right.

Most of you know Colorado Crystal. Colorado Crystal was the mature Crystal. The responsible Crystal. The Crystal who came here to go to nursing school. The Crystal with a goal to accomplish. The nurse Crystal. The wife Crystal. The mom Crystal.

I am here to tell you about California Crystal. The single Crystal. The dingy Crystal. The Crystal that had more blonde moments than most blondes I know. She was goofy. She was silly. She was playful. She was a party girl. She was a free spirit. Our motto was “Work Hard and Play Hard” and we played hard!!

I wanted to come up and tell you some funny stories about when we were growing up. Let me tell you, I had a hard time coming up with things that were appropriate enough to discuss with you. I thought of a lot of things that I knew I couldn’t tell you. Some I couldn’t tell you because they were, well….illegal. Some I couldn’t tell because her mom and dad are here and they took place at their house while they were on vacation. The others I couldn’t tell you because I am sure she wouldn’t want her mom and dad to know. I know I don’t want them to know especially because a couple of nights ago at dinner Miguel said to me…..Tricia all this time I thought you and Crystal were good girls. I wanted to ask him…What is your definition of good?? But instead I crossed my fingers and toes under the table and assured him that we were good girls.

The California Crystal was the Crystal that I rescued at all hours of the day and night after she had been stranded from numerous places, the Crystal that bungee jumped in Rosarito, Mexico and walked away with huge bruises and welts on her legs, Alicia you were with her when this happened so you can take the blame for this one. The one that got caught using her sister’s ID, I was there for this one but it was Cindy’s ID so Cindy you can take the blame for this one. She was the one that ordered a couple of hundreds of dollars of room service not knowing that someone would eventually have to pay for it and that someone was her father..Dana you were there for this one so now I guess you owe Miguel your half and Crystal’s half of the bill. She was my partner in crime, the one that stayed intoxicated with me for an entire seven days on our vacation to Hawaii…this was only her and I so I guess I will have to take the blame for this one. Crystal was the one that heard a good song and ran onto the dance floor with or without a partner..usually without.

What I think is so crazy is that her precious Rylee is already displaying some of Crystal’s goofball symptoms. I think Crystal had already detected it, she knew it. She would often look at Rylee and say “My legend lives on”. Oh boy, I think she is right. I have already come to terms with the fact that I am going to have to spend lots of time in Denver when Rylee becomes a teenager. I will know all her tricks because her mom and I probably already did them.

Crystal until we meet again in heaven, I will miss your 6 am phone calls, our long talks about everything and your annoying giggle when you really got going. Heaven is a better place now that you are there. All of us are in a better place because you are watching over us.

On behalf of my Aunt Alma and my Uncle Miguel and my entire family, I would like to thank all of you who helped her get through this. Those who brought the family those delicious dinners, those who gave her rides to and from treatments, those who babysat, those who gave her moral support and those who prayed for her. I would especially like to thank Dee, Ellen and Cherie I only felt comfortable being so far away because I knew you were here taking care of her. I would rather have 3 friends like you than a million fair weather friends.

Friday, May 1, 2009