Hi, there. Haven’t written you guys in while now… Matilda Jane and life have kinda swept me away these past few months. But today something that means everything has pulled me back down to earth.
If you don’t know her already, Chelsa DeMarchis* was an angel in the MJC office who began her journey with breast cancer a little over four years ago. I remember Denise standing across from the cutting table at 435 during Art Fair when she looked up and told me out of nowhere that Chelsa was diagnosed with breast cancer. And yes, I mean out of nowhere. Nowhere like we were prepping for Art Fair for two hours, and she drops the bomb mid-conversation. To be honest, it felt more like a terrible, foreign story to me at the time, but not really a bomb that would eventually leave shrapnel in my heart, and the hearts of so many forever. I didn’t know Chelsa. She didn’t work at Matilda Jane, yet, and I’d only met her once or twice. It broke my heart to hear, but I didn’t carry the weight myself that day.
This was our very first Art Fair. The 435 Art Fair. Do you guys remember it? I can still feel the excitement of the unknown. Would anyone show up? Would they like our knot dresses with the new ties and all the twirly skirts? And I designed probably 25% of that art fair. What if it’s all MY stuff left over at the end? With no home and no cute girl to love them forever? I put every piece of myself into that weekend and in the end, I was really proud of what we’d all accomplished. And thankful, so thankful for all of you who showed up. Because sometimes, half the battle is just showing up. Ya know?
Back to Chelsa. In the midst of all the Art Fair craziness there was Chelsa. Chelsa who got the scariest news anyone can imagine receiving. Chelsa who still attended art fair. Chelsa who still came to Denise’s house for the “adult only after party.” Chelsa who stood by Denise’s pool and talked to me for 25 minutes. Our first conversation ever. And you know what it was about? Not cancer, and not the challenges she was facing. There was nothing negative from her. All we talked about was me. SHE talked about me. She told me how impressive I was to her, and how she believed in me. She didn’t even know me! She didn’t even know me. And what can I say? I’ve had a lot of these 25 minute talks with her since then. Talks in the halls of MJC. Talks in corners at Christmas parties. We created a little support system that I never even noticed I was apart of. You don’t know how much I miss that connection with her. Or ha, maybe you do!! That angel touched a lot of people. Oh Chelsa…
When I shaved my head for Denise, I was so nervous to see Chelsa. I didn’t know what she would say to me or if she would be sad I didn’t do it for her, or if she would think it was a weird thing to do for someone who was my “boss”. Yes I know those are silly thoughts, but I was truly worried. She came into the design office that day and walked right up to me with tears in her eyes and her hand over her mouth. She used the word “proud.” And she told me that on her way to work that morning, she listened to a new song by Sara Bareilles called Brave. It reminded her of her boys. She made me look the song up on YouTube right then and there, and by the end we both had tears in our eyes.
Chelsa DeMarchis. A brave, beautiful, loving, creative, talkative, absolutely lovely and poised woman. I rarely saw her out of form. She just had this air about her. Like she was fancy, but she wasn’t all at the same time?! She talked so much it drove me nuts sometimes. She talked so much it made me comfortable with how much I talk at other times. She had so much to say because she was so willing to share herself with others. She loved her boys. All three of them. She loved Matilda Jane. She thought Denise was amazing and David was hilarious. And her husband, Dan, was truly the man of her dreams. Dang, she taught me so much about love.
Sunday, December 7th would be Chelsa’s birthday. In honor of her love and wonder, we are all wearing purple (her favorite color) and sporting wigs and scarves today. And on Sunday, Kayla and some of Chelsa’s closest friends will be toasting her at the Cancer Society of Northeast Indiana’s new wig room that was designed and decorated with Chelsa in mind. A huge cheers to Chelsa for what she accomplished with her life, and all the lasting impressions she’s left in all of us! If you wanna hear a little about her story and involvement with Cancer Services or if you just miss her voice and pretty, pretty face, you can click here.
What a woman. What a story. What an example she set for us all.
*Editor’s Note: Chelsa DeMarchis was a beloved member of the Matilda Jane family, and, MJC’s founder, Denise DeMarchis’ sister-in-law. She passed away on March 10th, 2014 after a brave battle with breast cancer. She’s missed by all who knew her.