Rebecca’s Flower It Forward mission: To be like Janet

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Rebecca Hildebrandt

FF Crew + FF Blog Contributor + Runner

I come from a long line of strong, amazing women. One of the amazing ladies in my family – my Aunt Janet – had been battling cancer for 3 years and last July, we learned that she had very few days left with us on this earth. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend much of her last week with her until she passed away and was incredibly honored to give the eulogy at her funeral.

I spoke about what she meant to me and all those who loved her – about all the wonderful qualities I had inherited from her, her tendency to give out full sized candy bars for Halloween and what one of her neighbors had said about her: “If you didn’t like Janet, there was something wrong with you. Because really, more people should be like Janet.”

I left her service that day feeling like I wanted to do something to honor her life in a way that would be meaningful to me  and that she would be proud of.

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A few days after her funeral, Fellow Flowers announced the annual Flower it Forward promotion and I knew immediately this was how I would honor Janet – by celebrating some of the amazing women in my life.

I shared a post on Facebook asking my friends to look at the flowers, pick a color and comment on the one that was their favorite, the one that spoke to them. I shared my plan to buy 25 flowers and gift them to the women who commented.

As I read the first post, I clapped and cheered out loud – people were really going to do this! And then, more people posted – some were close friends and family and some were acquaintances – but each of them were somehow connected to me, and because of that, connected to Janet. As I read each post, the tears began to flow. I was so thankful for this opportunity I had to empower and inspire 25 amazing ladies. Just as my Aunt Janet would have wanted.

In the end, 37 amazing women whom I love commented on my post, and 37 flowers were ordered and sent to each one of these beautiful women. Tears rolled as I walked into the post office with 37 packages going to 6 different states, and with those flowers, I shared these words from her eulogy:

Over the last week I’ve thought a lot about what Janet would want this day and her legacy to be. She would want there to be laughter, but would also expect there to be tears. She would want there to be good food and stories told, old memories shared and new memories made. She would want there to be family and friends gathered. And most importantly, she would want us all to love with our whole hearts, unconditionally and deeply. She’d want us to hug the way hugs were made to be given. She’d want us to care for the world around us. And I have no doubt, she’d want us to give out the full size candy bars at Halloween. Because really, more people should be like Janet.janet-and-i

A few days later, many of the 37 ladies who received their flowers posted pictures and notes of thank you on my Facebook page. They shared their plans for their flowers and how they were going to carry on Janet’s legacy. And what I realized then – whether you’re a runner or not, the messages in these flowers are powerful and an opportunity to celebrate – and be like Janet!

Flower it Forward runs October 1 – 9. Learn more here!

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