As I watch our small corner of the world react to the sudden passing of Sana Elache, I keep seeing ripples, beautiful waves of humanity that she inspired during her many years of living and serving in our community. She was there at the beginning of Leadership Wood Buffalo, leading the way with conviction, passion and an inner light that made us all better leaders. She was there mere days ago, leading the way with the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo, her wisdom and dedication helping that organization thrive and change lives.
To be honest, Sana's death has not settled in my bones yet. My head knows that she is gone, but my heart isn't playing along. My deeper self still feels like she is here, about to appear at the next community event, bursting out in a smile as we make eye contact from across the room and coming together for a big hug. I think the moment I see Anas or Luay, the feeling of loss will descend from my head to my heart, and the tears will finally fall.
The names of people who reacted on social media represent a small portion of the ripple effect that she had in her life. Sana had a way with people that was authentic, heartfelt and warm. She helped us aspire to our better selves, urging us to model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. The hundreds of people that she influenced in our community are actively making the world a nicer place, in part because of the time they had with Sana.
I remember the first night I met her. We sat together at a jazz concert in the Keyano rehearsal hall. The Mike Allen Trio was playing songs from their Fearless album, which had recently been released. I connect with those songs in a way that feels like coming home, even to this day. Perhaps Sana's presence helped enhance the beauty and connectedness of those compositions.
It was such a lovely introduction to this beautiful lady who would go on to become the Executive Director of the Leadership Wood Buffalo program and guide the inaugural cohort through a powerful journey. She shepherded multiple cohorts and eventually became chair of that board. Sana contributed to the Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo project and added value to so many other community and social profit initiatives.
Sana was a community champion, an amazing mother, a loving wife, and a dear friend to many of us. The energy she brought, the passion she exuded, and the love she gave will ripple as waves on the surface of our community for years to come. The ripples will serve to remind us of our higher purpose, our better selves, and the beautiful kindness of a lady who touched all of our lives in a way that we will never forget.