Shared by Jessica Loeb on September 9, 2019
I feel grateful that I crossed paths with Colleen in her last two years of life. Although I know those years were often not easy, her struggle was beautiful. She was truly making progress against internal odds that I can only fathom, for that and more she has my lifelong respect. Although many never reach the top of Mount Everest, no one can take away the views seen along the way. I am grateful that Colleen had moments of healing and connection in these last years. I hope they were transcendent. 

Colleen ate from the buffet of life and truly embodied the word gifted. From academics, athletics, tennis, running, reading, knitting, cooking, baking, drawing, journaling, poetry, entertaining, traveling, shopping, enjoying movies and TV, music, dancing, caring for animals, socializing, you name it! While her time on earth was cut too short, she truly packed it in in the years that she had. Her life was like the dense fantasy novels she read and loved, full of adventure, daring, twists, turns, ups and downs, mysteries, many interesting characters, and divine lessons learned. 

The way she lived and especially the way she brought other people in to her life will stick with me and continue to inspire me for the rest of mine. Although Colleen was masterful at all that she did, it is really so true: "People will forget what you said, will forget what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." Although she is gone physically, her memory is here spiritually and emotionally, continuing to inspire, especially through her amazing children, family members, and friends. Her vulnerability bred intimacy

Colleen knew that I loved quotes, poetry, little bits of wisdom. She asked me to share with her what I came across, in hindsight, probably because she thought it would make me feel special and included. That was her way. A few months ago I shared a poem with her that I will paraphrase: "Life loves broken things. Life takes broken clouds to make rain, broken soil to make grain, broken grain to make bread, broken bread to give strength, broken people to heal the world." In our fix-it culture the word "broken" gets a bad rap, but I think broken is under-rated, it is one end of the spectrum and one side of the coin. Our muscles break and mend many times throughout our life to make us strong, as do our hearts. Colleen was nothing if not strong.

About others!

Shared by Tim McMahon on September 5, 2019
Rob Watters told me this one the other day......

A group of us (me, Rob Watters, Dave Anderson, the Mulroys, the Lewis', and Col and Dan) went to Breckenridge for a ski vacation one year and after a few long days on the slopes, Rob desperately wanted us all to go see the movie Swingers showing one night in the village.   We were all tapped out and exhausted, wanting to lay low and call it a night, but Rob was really pushing.  We all bailed on joining him - timely with our excuses - except for Colleen.  Rob knew she wasn't that interested in going but she did, not wanting to see Rob go by himself. She was just like that.

Brilliant smile and amazing spirit

Shared by Shawna Dhariwal on August 30, 2019
We miss you deeply Colleen. You were always the one to light up the room with your smile, positive attitude and amazing spirit full of energy. I still remember when Aspen held retreats in Ft Lauderdale— you always helped scout out the venues, get any supplies we needed and joined us for the celebrations. You even opened your house and always graciously shared your time.You were always so giving. Thank you for everything. 

My niece

Shared by Suzanne Prorok on August 29, 2019
Though diminutive in stature, Colleen had the wingspan of an eagle- for those huggable “hellos” and “goodbyes”

My Friend

Shared by Karen Dolce on August 28, 2019
When I reflect on my childhood, Colleen McMahon is at the forefront. 
There are are so many stories. Playing Emergency with our Bigwheels, playing school, squeezing into the McMahon clubhouse to play house, and pretending that our bikes were horses. Chautauqua baseball games and crayfish catching. Our dogs used to play together and wrestle. Col always said that Snooper’s ear had a funny bend in it because Muffet used to chew on it.
Even though we’re not related I know all Col’s aunts and uncles and cousins and greeted her grandparents with hugs. There were caroling parties at our house. In fourth grade we had little stuffed animals we put on our school desks and made paper “books” for until Miss Brown said, “Enough.” There was our Barbie phone conversation for the fifth grade talk for girls. And the day at the OP public library when we found an ad in a magazine for a little booklet entitled “How To Kiss With Confidence.” We pooled our $5 and sent away for it. The only advice I remember was, “Watch out for braces. They can get locked together.” 
So many of our conversations started, “My mom said that your mom said...” We navigated Nativity, basketball and softball, OPHS-sharing a homeroom and many classes, studying and helping each other (like sharing Latin translations), Canisius dances, hanging out, college, weddings (preceded by my first and only “Laker”), Fall Balls and Spring Flings, and families,and just life. 
So many stories. One of my very first friends. Love you, Col

Aunt Colleen and I

Shared by Kate McMahon on August 27, 2019
My Aunt Colleen was an amazing person with a lot of personality. She and I had a lot of things in common.  We both loved to run and we also loved animals a lot. Our connection was very strong. We always had a fun time when we were together. She could always make me smile and feel happy. Her personality was very contagious to people around her. I can’t believe she is gone and I will forever miss her. I loved her soo much. May you Rest In Peace Aunt Colleen. 
Shared by Pamela Whissel on August 27, 2019
Tim, Kevin, and Erin,

In the older pictures, the faces of you four little kids live in some of my earliest memories. They go farther back than the time I had to ask what your last name was because since day one your parents have been "Aunt" and "Uncle" and not Mr. and Mrs.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about when I say that as the events of our earliest memories get farther and farther in the past, the more precious those memories become. And at the same time, as the years go by, the harder it is to hold on to them all, so the work of remembering becomes all the more important. My memories of Colleen--and her siblings--will always be with me because they always have been. 


Yesterday (8/26) with Colleen

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 27, 2019
We spent an incredible hour with Colleen yesterday in Florida.  She looked so beautiful and at peace.  We wet the floor around her with tears of sorrow.  We spoke of her preciousness, her fighting spirit and strength, and her absolute beauty both inside and out.  She was a special presence and will continue to be. We are all better for having been touched by her.

Colleen Tribute

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 26, 2019
I lost my beautiful sister. Colleen would have been 51 on November 28th. As big brothers, only 2 and 3, and 3 and 5 years older than each sister, Kevin and I loved them and looked out for them. We were close siblings. Early on, we had different activities but we also did a lot together, whether it was playing tennis or family softball; trying our hand at gymnastics together; fishing at Chautauqua from dinner to nightfall what seemed like every night of the summer; and of course, holiday celebrations. With 4 kids in a tight age range, my parents had to economize what we could all do. And it was really a great opportunity for us as brothers and sisters (and parents, I am sure) to share these mutual experiences as much together as we did.

We always looked forward to a competitive card game of Scat or crazy 8s at Nanas, and then at the Lamb’s or our house over the holidays, playing board games. Colleen was always the most competitive and spirited. We also looked forward to the numerous road trips in our woody wagon to DC to see our cousins, or down to Florida for spring break to see our grandparents and great aunts and uncles. Those were seasonal rites of passage for us. They were memorable and shared and precious.

Even as we grew, with our mutual activities and interests becoming less and less, we still found pockets of common ground to share. Kevin and I played hockey, Colleen and Erin played field hockey. We played baseball, they played softball.We ran around Orchard Park and Chautauqua together with many of you, or your children.Kevin, Colleen, Erin, and I all worked at the Chautauqua Boys’ and Girls’ Club. I’ll always remember piling into our station wagon, hustling to make the 9AM start.Colleen was the first and only girl to ever play on the EMHOs softball team at Chautauqua. She played 2nd base and I played shortstop. We turned some double plays. The guys on the team all loved Colleen and cherished her and protected her as a teammate, friend, and my sister.

I went to St. Lawrence, Col went to St. Lawrence. There, we met each other’s friends, hung out, went on road trips (including a great and memorable one to visit Kevin his senior year), and came home on breaks together. My senior year, she lived in a suite across the hall from mine. Having my little sister there was awesome. I went to Kenya for a semester, she did the same a year and a half after me. We talked about our mutual experiences of those semesters abroad almost every time we got together over the last 30 years, mostly about the Maasai Mara and Samburu parts of the experience, describing our favorite animals. And Colleen loved animals. I distinctly remember her stuffed animal collection covering most of her purple bed as a little girl. She most recently worked at an animal hospital, where she took so much pride in running a caring operation, spending weekends on call feeding and attending to other people’s pets.  She had a true passion for helping and healing.

After college, the joy with my sister, family, and friends just continued.She and Dan got married, the first of our group of friends to do so. They started their family soon after. We had our Fall Balls and Spring Flings to close and open the cottage at Bemus Point. Now, with Jack and Emma running around too. Those were epic weekends. Highlights of every year.

She was always in the moment, coordinating, arranging, but also listening, helping, making jokes, and laughing. Colleen was a giver, always putting herself last. You ALWAYS knew you were important to her and a part of her life; her priority. Can you imagine her as a grandma? That would have been so beautiful to experience.

Being as unselfish as she was, she kept her struggles largely to herself, especially at their earliest. Deep down, to feel alone and conflicted while on the surface, it was still always about whomever she was with and the experience.Your moment, not hers, but she was with you. What she was coping with inside is still incomprehensible and always will be.

As her valiant struggles with mental health seemed to take greater hold, it was so taxing on some of you. Mom, Dad, Jack, Dan, Emma…. You did the best you could. Please know that. You showed the greatest emotion and passion I have ever witnessed, providing love in words of course, but your actions, and in ways that a description couldn’t do justice.

Some of you don’t know this and it is important that we tell you, but Colleen fought so, so hard to get better. She hated feeling depressed, conflicted, and tormented so much of the time. The victories, then the relapses, crashing down hard but getting right back up and trying to find help professionally, through peer groups, through friends and family, and within herself. She’d be back to the task of getting better, mustering that competitive spirit again and again, the mindset of “I’m working to get better.” I can only imagine how much harder it was to keep it together and improve when her mind wasn’t cooperating.

Mom, Dad, Dan, Jack, Emma, - you are heroes. To see your commitment to fight this with her, to help her seek counseling and the needed medical attention… the many times you spent in the hospital, at meetings and sessions, or at her home with her, ……your constant worry and always finding ways to be with her whenever you could - it breaks all our hearts but please know and remember how grateful we all are that you did so much to keep her light radiant, beautiful and so fondly memorable.

I’d like to ask us all to think and act and prioritize in any way you can, the woefully under-served mental health environment in our country. The obstacles and vagaries and inconsistencies Colleen and our family had to go through to get her treated and attended to, often remotely, were frustrating on far too many occasions. Across the spectrum of health care, we do so little comparatively for mental health, and need to call more significant attention to those in need, often desperate need, of treatment and continuing care. Please, please, evaluate your political representatives and determine or ask if they take a position of real action, in facing the challenges in the mental health field. We allocate too little in resources and need to improve so much, including access, coverage, and research.

The shared experiences we have all had with her are part of the indelible and precious memories we will always have of my beautiful, loving, vibrant, and giving sister, Colleen Therese. Please think of her and smile and if you detect mental strain and conflict in others, or yourself, please seek help.

Everyone Colleen touched, adored her. By taking her radiance - her shining example of how to live the best we can – and paying attention to others and giving to them, we can make her legacy even brighter.

Spread Love!

Bright Smile, Heart and Soul

Shared by Jody Cervenak on August 26, 2019
Colleen was a beautiful woman inside and out. I feel very blessed to have known her for 31 years. My first and final memory of her was her contagious smile - she smiled with her whole face and body - her eyes lit up, her cheeks blushed, her grin spread from ear to ear and radiated that huge smile which was always accompanied by a powerful loving hug. I remember Colleen being unique, generous, kind and full of joy. She was exciting to be around always laughing and up for having fun. She was artistic and shared her beauty with the world. She expressed ideas intensely and was always engaged and present in conversations whether it was a one on one or a group. Colleen reflected warmth and love as though you were in the presence of the sun. I will fondly remember the amazing times we had together in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Ft. Lauderdale, Park City and New Orleans. The world is less bright without her. May her memory be eternal! 

 

Your Laugh. Your Love for Animals. Your Kindness.

Shared by Jill Merjeski on August 25, 2019
Colleen (or Coal—leen as pronounced by some ;)

i miss your laugh, your genuine kindness. The way you treated people and animals. Your heart was bigger than the moon. You are truly one of a kind.

You and I exchanged Christmas presents in 2017, and you were so thoughtful with your gift to me: pajama pants with paw prints (we shared the love of animals) socks to keep my tootsies warm, and you were so excited to give them to me. I made you a bracelet of peace, hope—because that’s what you always strived and fought for.

i remember when I brought home kittens that I was pet sitting—they were only a few weeks old. Your face LIT up. You helped me bottle feed them and you were so beautiful. You smiled and laughed at their cuteness. I still have that image in my mind. I love that image. 

I remember how excited you got when you told stories. I remember you laughing at my jokes—making me believe that I was funny (I’m not) and what a wonderful person you were.

i remember I was cold one day, and you lent me pink sweatpants. You said keep them and then gave me the matching sweatshirt and another pair of pants that matched so I would always be warm.

this was the most generous thing anyone has ever done for me: you and I were in the garage, waiting for Dan to pick you up. You were so beautiful. You were wearing a sundress and you glowed. I complimented your flip flops. You took them off your feet and gave them to me. Gave them to me! I wore them for years and thanked you profusely. You said you had a million more and you wanted me to have them.

no one is like you, Colleen. No one. I am lucky to have known you. I know I have a friend waiting with something to keep me warm on the other side. I will see you then, Colleen. I love you. Jill

From Jon Nassif

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
 I'm crushed...so sorry... far too soon for Colleen. So many fond memories with Col that will live on with me...I'm sad today and grieving with you brother. Lots of love from me and Laurie and to your family. Peace - chief. 

My sister Colleen spotify playlist, feel free to add songs

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019

From David O'shaughnessy

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
So sorry to hear about Colleen's passing. Since day 1 back in 1987 when my dad bought the Lake house, your whole family have been incredibly welcoming....especially Colleen! Always a huge, engaging smile and a hello whenever I saw her. She had an infectious and loving personality and was always so very nice to me.
God Bless, hugs and thoughts go out to entire McMahon crew.

From Aunt Marcia Lamb

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
......I am still trying to get my heart and head around the fact that your lovely bright light of a sister is no longer here. I am so sorry for all of you, for all of us, and for all of those whose lives she tried to make better. When we hugged each other and said goodbye in Chautauqua this past July, I told her how proud of her I was. She said "Thanks, Mar. That means a lot. But it's hard.  It's so, so hard." But that's just what made me so proud of you, dear Coll. You tried so hard to win. Fierce hugs -- Mar xx

Giver

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
(On the phone with Col) 'hey Tim, how are your girls? what are they up to?'.. (my response) "playing tons of soccer and hitting the tennis ball sometimes"... a week later a pair of brand new tennis racquets and matching bags show up on our doorstep.

Softball

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
Chautauqua softball league 1988. Col is our team 2nd baseman and only girl (maybe in the whole league).  A hard line drive knocks her on her ass but she manages to stop the ball and still throw the batter out at first.  Immediate cheers, "WOWS!", and laughter from the players and spectators . Look at the team photo in the gallery, she looks so badass.

Concerts and dancing

Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
So many concerts together.... just she and I at Phish at Darien Lake about 6-7 years ago dancing our asses off. No one in the venue could keep up with her that night. My legs hurt the next day ......

Colleen, Dan and I in Raleigh  at Widespread Panic. I had leg surgery so was in a wheelchair and we got the VIP treatment to be up close in the wheelchair section with plenty of dance space.  She invited all kinds of dancing friends that night to join us in the section, telling security 'they're with us'......

1999 in the 'burgh for the Stones at Civic Arena. Me, Kath, Col, the Higgins', and Steve Frank. As the concert starts to wind down, Frankie, Col, and Kath hop the boards and slip past security to dance crazy in the floor section. I could've wet myself laughing...
Shared by Tim McMahon on August 25, 2019
A lefty who had surgery on that wrist so she could play tennis with less pain, so while rehabbing she just starting playing righty! ...determination to get better and healthy.  Heart of a lioness...oh my sister was brilliant and vibrant light! Trying to find a way to celebrate a life that profoundly touched so many

Colleen! ❤️

Shared by Brooke Ellis on August 25, 2019
I will always love you Colleen and I miss you dearly! You have always been a dynamic woman who succeeded in all aspects of life.  I have so many funny stories throughout our friendship. Early mornings drinking a pot of coffee and solving the problems of the world with some humor thrown in. You loved to be up early morning listening to NPR on your headphones but 9 times out of 10 we had too much to say to one another! Driving your Jeep to the beach in Pompano, feeing 25 and acting like “Thelma and Louise” with the wind blowing through our hair and laughing all the way. We always loved to hang out on the beach in a cabana you and Dan rented for months every year.  You were my friend with a huge heart.  You never met a stranger. Whether we were shopping, sitting on your dock with your dogs, having lunch or hanging out, you always saw the best in everyone. You had such a warmth about you and loved to entertain in your sanctuary, your home. Those evenings were filled with great stories, fantastic meals and lots of laughter.My heart has been breaking without you. Your fierce love for Dan, Jack and Emma will never be forgotten. I will make sure I am their for your family. I love you always and it’s not goodbye. 

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