This week the Braid community lost a beloved mentor who embodied love and joy.

This week we have been deeply saddened to learn of the recent death of one of our mentors, Peg Van Loo.

Peg had stepped away from active mentoring this fall due to illness, but we had great hope for her recovery and eventual return to her team. Her passing was a shock and is a profound loss for her team and all who knew her.

As you go about your week, please hold in your hearts Peg’s past and present teammates Maritza, Anne, Lynn, Jen, and Alex, who have lost a treasured friend, and who are committed to holding their youth through what will be a significant loss in her life.

Chris and I first met Peg two and a half years ago, when Braid sponsored an exhibit of the Foster Youth Museum at Grace Cathedral, where Peg was a member. After one of our presentations there, she approached us to ask if we could use her as a mentor even though she was wheelchair-bound.

The following month she was at Braid mentor training and soon afterward became a founding member of the second-ever Braid team.

Peg served as an anchor for that team for almost two years.

As a long-time resident of the city and a creative soul, she was full of ideas. Though Peg’s team rarely ventured farther than she could roll in her chair (or take a bus ride), in some ways they covered more ground than the typical team, thanks in large part to her ingenuity.

She identified and arranged dance classes and swimming classes and lots of other amazing opportunities for their youth, and even though Peg couldn’t participate in these things herself, she took great pleasure in making them possible for others and in observing their enjoyment. Some of you will remember last year’s Braid magic show with Lawrence Lemon: that was all thanks to Peg!

If you ever met Peg (pictured above as “Super Duck” at this past October’s gathering) at an all-Braid event, you undoubtedly remember the beautiful smile that nearly always lit up her face. Odds are good that you also laughed with her over one of her witty remarks. Peg took great delight in the world around her and in the people around her, most especially the youth she mentored.

I have been remembering Peg with fondness and willing myself to try to be more like her, and so my word to you this week is to encourage you to do the same.

All of us who interact regularly with youth (as mentors, teachers, parents) learn the hard way that this work rarely feels reciprocal. The moments when a young person gives thanks for our time or investment, or takes an active interest in our lives, are few and far between.

But I firmly believe – and I know Peg did too – that no love given in this world is ever wasted or lost. Peg quite literally embodied her belief that life is about much more than the capabilities and capacities of our physical selves. Every day she did all in her power to pour love and joy into the world, because she knew they would outlive her.

And they will, in the hearts of all of us who miss her and who strive to brighten the world the way she did.

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