What Will They Say When You’re Gone

In Chronicles of a CEO by Rebecca Liston

My friend and colleague, Ann Rich, died November 9, 2015 from ovarian cancer. She was 44 years old. And as strange as this may sound, Ann died the way she lived.

I had the gift of spending time with Ann in September, and to talk with her about her legacy: what did she want to tell the world? What did she want people to know? I promised her I would share her message with as many people as I could, but more than that, I promised myself that I would live her legacy as closely as I possibly could.

Ann wanted people to be aware of the environmental effects of crappy food and chemical contamination. She wanted people to know that taking care of one’s body is not “optional,” that an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold. And she wanted people to be conscious of the the choices that they were making in terms of activity and food, and to not be so rigid that they didn’t enjoy a doughnut from time to time.

That’s what she told me she wanted people to know.

But that’s not all she gave to me to tell.

Ann was, in a word, formidable.

Ann brought this incredible blend of strength and quirkiness to the world, steadfast resolve and goofy humour rolled into one. She was passionate — passionate! — about helping people and was so dedicated to her art of acupuncture that it caused me to shake my head in wonder. Ann could sink her teeth into a client’s health problem with a tenacity and a kindness that was unparalleled.

Ann gave. She gave of her time and her talents, her humour, and her home. She shared what she knew without restraint, and sought to boost those around her to their highest potential. She set the bar, and both expected and supported those around her to reach it.

Ann received. She would cock her head to the side and nod as you spoke, taking in your words, distilling them in that busy, intelligent mind of hers, and offer her opinion unabashedly, with firm kindness if she disagreed, with a grin if she did. She asked for help and took it when offered (it wasn’t always easy to ask, but she learned how, and she did.) She knew the importance of reciprocity, and modeled it for others.

Ann loved. She had friends around the world, some she never met in person, all of whom she adored. She was a mom to many four-legged fur babies throughout her life, and loved them fiercely. Her family, like all families, had its own challenges, but she would speak of them with understanding, compassion, and deep-seated love.

Ann lived and played hard and well, whether in her role as an Olympic-calibre rower, member of a theater troupe, or simply sitting around the table rolling the dice or playing a card game.  She lived and played full-out.

And Ann died, as I said, the way she lived.

With integrity. With grace. With humour. With thoughts of her friends and her family foremost in her mind. She managed every detail she could before her death so her family would not have to deal with all that paperwork as they grieved. She ensured her patients and team at her clinic in Kansas were cared for and that her good work would continue. She shipped her cats across the country to a new home, and found new parents for her beloved puppies. She arranged trips to see friends, parties and outings to say her good-byes, and took her final “bucket list” journey to New Orleans with her mom on the train from Seattle in her last week on this Earth.

Ann was, in a word, formidable.

On the day she received the news that treatment was not working, that this was now the time to prepare for her transition, she wrote:

“Tonight the pity party starts and ends. Tomorrow I will go see Mad Max because bad news deserves a movie where shit is blown up. For you, my dear friends, please love each other a bit more — take a bit more care of your own, and always focus on the positive in your dark times.

This is about living to the fullest, not living to die. For we don’t know when our time is…We are not our bodies, we are the light that we share and shine. All my love to you all.”

In memory of the formidable Ann-Marie Evangeline Rich, born 28 September 1971, died 9 November, 2015…’till we meet again, my friend, ’till we meet again.




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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit rebeccaliston.com to find out more.