"When I tell people about my struggles with depression, I hear Me too." - Anne Marie Ames
It's been a year since we lost our Co-Founder Anne Marie.
I'll never forget the night I met Anne Marie. In her welcome remarks for our debut show she tells the story of how the universe brought us together on July 21, 2013. We were introduced by our mutual friend Kiran, and Anne Marie immediately recognized me from my blog. "You're Bipolar Mom!" she exclaimed, and I felt like a local celebrity. I had opened up publicly just 3 months before.
The rest of the night Anne Marie and I hijacked a corner of the room and spent the better part of 2 hours talking nonstop. The joke among some of our other friends who were at the party was that no one could get a word in edgewise, so they just left us alone. It was like we were on a date and no one wanted to be the third wheel. It's true. We were building what would become a deep and meaningful friendship, and very soon after we met, a partnership in founding a nonprofit which would change the course of both of our lives.
Anne Marie nurtured This Is My Brave from its humble beginnings, and it has grown to what it has become today because of her contributions. I know I never would have been able to launch this organization if Anne Marie hadn't taken the gigantic leap of faith with me.
I miss Anne Marie with my entire heart and think of her every single day. I miss her warmth and her smile and how we could make each other laugh with a single word. She would always be there to listen, no matter what the topic. She didn't love going on camera, but she let me drag her into the videos. We made so many memories filming our Kickstarter videos and we were so proud of ourselves for learning iMovie without ever having touched it!
No one should ever have to lose a friend to a sudden death. It feels as though they've been torn from you and there are so many things left unsaid. I hope Anne Marie knew how much I loved her. I hope she knew my life is better for having known her. I hope she knew how much she meant to me and the many people who she has touched in this world. Through her friends and family, and through the community of people who were drawn to her through This Is My Brave, Anne Marie left permanent impressions on our hearts.
Some of our alumni storytellers shared their favorite memories or gratitude and I wanted to share them with our This Is My Brave community:
"I'll never forget walking in to auditions, nervous and shaky, but immediately surrounded by the warmth that was Anne Marie. She made me feel safe and nurtured every time we saw each other. I think of Anne Marie often. I feel so lucky have known her and felt that warmth she radiated. I love that I can go back and view my performance and I can hear her introducing me. There is such a smile in her voice." - Olivia Hinebaugh, debut cast member
"I absolutely love the photo of our inaugural cast in front of the step-and-repeat banner. Anne Marie was right behind me, which is how she was, for all of us. Right behind us...supporting, cheering, appreciating and love us as only she could. Anne Marie made me believe that I could be the best version of myself. I miss her dearly." - Heather Coleman, debut cast member
"My husband and I never had the honor of meeting Anne Marie in person, but were part of the cast of the October 207 show in Boston - the first show after her loss. I think back to the dark years prior to being in the show, where my husband was hospitalized several times and spent years fighting his way back to life. And it strikes me that at the very time we were in that dark place here in Boston, Anne Marie and Jenn were in another place, meeting, planning dreaming and expanding the reach of This Is My Brave so that eventually it found me where I was. Now here it is years later, and we are not only okay, but we got to be in this life changing show that only exists because Anne Marie did." - Becky and Joe LeBlanc, Boston 2017 cast members
"Anne Marie has made a lasting imprint on my heart. She truly taught me what it means to be brave. Anne Marie made me feel special and like my story mattered. She gave me so much hope, inspiring me to push on, share my story and help others. Anne Marie saved my life and I'm so grateful to have known her." - Ruthie Parrott, debut cast member
"I never met Anne Marie, but I am one of the many people who were blessed by the light that she brought to the world. I was honored to be in the 2018 Boston cast and it was truly a transformative experience. Anne Marie must have been a very special person to be able to do the things she did. Even though she will never know who I am or hear my story, she has left a legacy in which thousands of other people now have! I'm so grateful for her and for everything she did. Her light will continue to shine and we will fan the flame for all those who are coming to tell their stories." - Christie Pearl, Boston 2018 cast member
I wish everyone could have known Anne Marie. Her smile made you feel like you were the most important person in the world at that moment. We miss her dearly, and it is our honor to carry on her legacy through the work of This Is My Brave.