Lisa Laco - A Tribute
We talked about the ugly truths of mental illness. She had read one of my blogs and reached out to me asking for an interview. September 3, 2020 was the air date (https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-391-superior-morning/clip/15796081-ptsd-stories-from-the-edge ) and it was my final conversation with her, one of several that we had had over the years. She told me she was proud of me. I thanked her for all the openness she has had about her own mental illness over the years. Lisa Laco passed away today and, in listening to that interview again, I’m so grateful I got the chance to tell her how I felt.
I can’t say we were close friends or anything like that, but we had a genuine bond that always came with hugs, smiles, and heartfelt messages. She was a fellow mental health advocate and champion. I have been lucky to have been interviewed by her several times over the years, chat with her online and be a fan of her amazing career. In 2019 I helped facilitate a promotional tour for a group called Boots on the Ground – Peer Support for First Responders. We toured the northwest and ended with a large wrap up event in Thunder Bay. I desperately needed an MC and couldn’t think of a better person. The funny part was, I had almost no time to prep her and it was last minute that we were able to connect and seal the deal. No matter….she showed up that day with a huge smile and hug for me and MC’d like a champ. I never had a doubt!
I admired her for many reasons, but especially because of her willingness to be open about her own journey with mental illness. We traded messages about this topic and when I wrote the blog entitled, What I Don’t Want You To Know, she reached out and asked for an interview. There truly is no bigger compliment than to get asked personally by Lisa for a chance to speak on the show she made a staple here in Thunder Bay. Due to COVID, it wasn’t in person and that made me a little sad. How I would have loved to have gotten another of those warm hugs from her. Later in the day after the interview was done, I messaged her to say thanks and she replied back with words that will stay in my heart forever; ‘I admire your dedication and courage’. There is no greater compliment in the world than to have a person like Lisa tell you something like that. I will treasure it always.
The world needs more champions like Lisa Laco. We need people who are passionate and caring and willing to show their vulnerability to the world; those who will use their voices to tell the important stories about people, our community, and our society. I cannot imagine what her family and friends are dealing with today as they mourn this loss. My hope is they will know how loved she was by so many and take some small measure of comfort in this as they move through their healing journey. Yes, the body that was Lisa Laco passed on today, but her spirit will never leave us. Thank you my fellow warrior and I will always hold a special place for you in my heart. You were a true hero. Rest in peace.