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I remember the first time I met Mandy Ferguson Kraft as if it was yesterday.

But then again, I imagine anyone who has ever met her would say the exact same thing.

Mandy was someone you noticed.  Sure, she was gorgeous with her dark skin and dark hair and those long, dark eyelashes that she perfectly manicured with her safety pin and Q-tips, but it wasn’t just that.  There was something about Mandy that drew you to her.  Her smile lit up a room.  Her laugh made you happy.  Just being in Mandy’s presence, was a gift.

I remember in college when Mandy met Brian, the love of her life.  They were head over heels in love, spending every waking moment together.  I laugh now, thinking about how we would get pissed off at her if she just wanted to be with Brian and didn’t want to come out with us.  I laugh because the truth is, we wanted her there because things just weren’t as fun without Mandy.  A girls night wasn’t the same if she wasn’t there with her sarcastic comments and ridiculously wicked humor and that smile of hers.  Mandy always brought the fun.

I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Mandy is gone at far too young an age.  She was loved by all who knew her and there is a hole in all of our hearts.  I can’t even begin to understand the pain of this world and there are no words that can ease the pain and suffering that all those who loved Mandy are feeling, especially her husband and three precious baby girls.

I wish I could take the pain away. I wish I could make it all better.  I wish I could see her again.  I wish I could hear her laugh.  I wish she would walk into the room and look at me and say her signature “Hey Giiiiiirl.”  I wish I could have one last conversation.  I wish I could tell her that I loved her.  But I can’t.

So to anyone reading this I will say this.

Live each day like it’s your last.  Hold tight to those you love and value every single second you get to spend with them.  Tell people how much you love them, every time you see them.  Be annoying about it.  Who the heck cares.  Say I love you to every single person that you love every single time you see them.  Don’t ever take a single moment you have for granted. Forgive freely. Remember what and who matters most and never lose sight of that.  Worry less. Laugh more. Do more of what you love and less of what you don’t.  And finally, remember Mandy.  Remember how she made everyone around her laugh and feel full of happiness and joy.  Strive to follow in Mandy’s footsteps every single day. Leave people with a smile on their face and happiness in their heart, just like Mandy always did.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.”

Mandy’s time with us was far too short. But without a doubt, her years were SO. FULL. OF. LIFE.  She brought all who knew her so much happiness, joy, laughter, and without a doubt, memories that will last a lifetime.

We will never forget you Mandy.  Your light shines on through your three gorgeous daughters and they will always know how beautiful their mother was—on the inside and out—and what a gift she was to this world.

If would like to help show love and support to Mandy’s husband and three beautiful daughters during this difficult time of loss, please consider contributing here.

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