There’s really no good way for me to start this Monday morning post. And there’s really no right way. My dear friend and mentor Mary Can passed away unexpectedly.
I met Mary in 2011, the year I founded my own enterprise. My company, a social enterprise, worked with women’s groups in India, Sri Lanka and Africa and offered them the opportunity to use their talent and skills to create sustainable home-ware products.
During this time, I connected with incredibly brave women, many of whom were subject to domestic abuse, and created opportunities to showcase their talent on an international platform. I was involved in every stage of the journey and when the finished products arrived in London, I also did the marketing and distribution at different events, pop up stores, museums and through my online store.
Initially I started trading and showcasing the products in London, locally in my neighbourhood with my very first event at the Hampstead Market. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was so nervous, anxious, petrified and absolutely sure that I wouldn’t sell even one product. In the midst of all this anxiety, it was Mary who came up to me with her lovely smile. She had set up shop next to me.
Mary was an entrepreneur herself who specialised in antique jewellery. She came up to me, started showing me the ropes and helped me settle right in. That was just the beginning. We went on from then to become great friends and be a part of many, many events. Mary was my friend, mentor and teacher.
In a couple of hours from now I will be sitting at Mary’s funeral. As I write this post I can’t help but feel both profound sadness and gratitude. Upon reflection, I believe Mary was a person with an enormous capacity for friendship along with an immense store of wisdom and life experience that she was always so happy to draw upon for her close friends and family. I feel so much gratitude for having known her.
She took her role as my friend and mentor so seriously – always made time to check in and offer me tips and advice when I needed it. She got to the core of my issues by asking me the right questions and holding the space while I tried and failed and helped me get back up on my feet. She encouraged me and helped me grow. She was so warm, kind and maternal. And I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Mary’s kindness and compassion.
I know death is inevitable. I lost both my parents and understand what grief and moving on is all about. I have been there, done that but somehow it just doesn’t get easier. But for now, I want to celebrate my friend and mentor and be so grateful for having had her in my life.
There is also a lesson here today – make time and be present. It’s so easy to find ourselves on the hamster wheel of “busy” but it’s so important to consciously step off and be present with those we love the most. The present moment is all that is.