Survivor Stories / Tributes

Dawn Barnhisel

Personal Description:

Dedication:

This is dedicated to Dawn Renee, our beloved sister, daughter, wife and friend. For the past 10 years, Dawn fought ovarian cancer with incredible courage, grace and often, humor. So strong was her love for us that she tried hard as she could for as long as she could to protect us from the pain she endured and the loss and deep sorrow we are now left with. She passed away in her sleep on Sunday morning, July 17th 2011 with her husband Carey and brother Doug by her side. She is survived by them, her parents, sisters, family and many friends, all of whom will be forever touched by knowing her.

Some might be inclined to say that she lost her battle with cancer at the age of 53 but that would be missing the point of her life. The reality is that she was the winner because her greatest gift to us was to show us all how to live and become the victor over adversity. She never allowed the cancer to steal her identity and in that way she will always be Dawn Renee, the Victorious.

Personal Description:

Dawn was born in Waco, Texas on September 14th , 1957. She grew up in Rancho Cordova, California where she attended St. John Vianney for 8 years, then attended and graduated from St. Francis High School in Sacramento and National University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts.

From 1984 through 2000, she held various positions at The San Francisco French Bread Company (where she ultimately met her husband Carey) and went on to open up her own truffle business, “Sweet Somethings”. Once married, she began teaching theology classes at St Francis High School. For the last six years she’s been working for the State of California, most recently at DGS Office of Fleet Management.

Dawn had many passions and was blessed with enviable creative talents. A very visual person, she had a keen eye for color, design and the aesthetic and was drawn to all things beautiful and natural. She could weave cloth on her loom, knit a plush scarf, or design and tender a lush and plentiful garden. Her favorite color was green…

A “foodie” to the core, Dawn loved cooking for friends and family and was always especially health conscious and disciplined, understanding the many benefits that a Vegan diet, and nutrition had on her body, her overall health and well being. She once said that by being a Vegan she “just felt right, felt fully committed on every level”.

Dawn’s inner life was just as rich and vast as her outer life. She wrote poetry, read books of all kinds, practiced meditation, prayer, listened to music (nature sounds, new age, etc.), and spent lots of time in her garden with her husband and her cats. She was an avid traveler too. Her worldliness and sense of adventure took her many places, her favorites being England, Mexico and Hawaii, places she revisited many times.

It cannot go without mention that Dawn LOVED animals, especially cats, dolphins and whales. She was a supporter of the SPCA and just recently began fostering animals, including 2 sibling kittens (Mucho and Smudge) whom she ended up adopting.

Dawn was and is many things to many people. She is earthy, spirited, passionate and committed. Loving, gentle, wise and generous. She is funny, silly, quirky and her laugh, positively infectious. She is authentic, beautiful and just. Anyone who has met her, known her, lived with her, loved her, will find it impossible to forget her.

LIVING

To touch the cup with eager lips and taste, not drain it
To woo and tempt and court a bliss-and not attain it
To fondle and caress a joy, yet hold it lightly
Let it become necessity and cling too tightly
To watch the sun set in the west without regretting
To hail its advent in the east-the night forgetting
To another care in happiness and grief in laughter
To hold the present close-not questioning hereafter
To have enough to share –to know the joy of giving
To thrill with all the sweets of life-is living

-Anonymous

Last updated on: 08/20/2011


Comments:

To Dawn’s Family: To be blessed with such a beautiful and talented family member must have been pure joy. Her passing is part of this life and the celebration of it is to honor a life well lived. It is painful to let that spirit go so young yet, now she is free to soar in all her perfect magnificence. It sounds as though her life on earth was spent in beauty and perfect balance surrounded by everything she loved. Blessings especially to Bill & Linda, Glenda & Emmet Clausner

Glenda Clausner – 07/30/2011

I must comment on the beautiful words of Glenda Clausner. Thank you so very much for the comfort they have brought.

Linda Muir – 08/03/2011

Linda and Bill – just know that you and your family are in my prayers. God loves you and he is always with you. He will welcome Dawn into his arms with admiration for all that she gave to others while here on earth. Love you.

Pat Gorrow – 08/05/2011

Hello Linda and Bill, Thank you so much for passing along the lovely tribute of your daughter to me. Even though I did not know her and only recently met you, I can sense what a unique family you have and how you inspired her to be her best self. When I lost my daughter , it was impossibly hard, but as you said about Dawn,that devastating event hasn’t become the identity for those of us left behind, but instead, her loss became the ongoing inspiration for us to treasure not only her but, all that she stood for , especially and ironically, her love of life. All my sympathy embraces you, Victoria

Victoria Jetton – 08/08/2011

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thank you, Linda for sharing your loss with me. You told me that Dawn loved all things Celtic…as I do. May God Bless you and your family and may Dawn live on in the memories of every single person she touched along the way.

Bobbie (from Trienelle)

Bobbie McGowen-Collins – 08/10/2011

I never knew Dawn but I heard her sister Devonne speak of her so often When she spoke of Dawn it was with such enthusuasm and admiration. It always struck me that Dawn seemed so vibrant to Devonne, she did not really see her as sick.I believe this was a woman who loved the world and sought to be the best person she could be at all times. She never became her cancer… it was something she journeyed with and paid attention to as she was living her life. It is so moving to see Devonne be so proud of her sister.Dawn was a positive force in her life and she left behind many warm and beautiful memories for her family to take with them for the rest of their lives. This is truly a gift for others to hold tenderly and treasure.

MaryLou Whalen

MaryLou Whalen – 08/22/2011

I am forever indebted to you for this inofrmaiton.

Viki Viki – 08/23/2011

I want to thank the Sirls for their donation to this fund. They are neighbors and did not know Dawn, and yet the generosity to donate is so appreciated. We are so grateful to you.

Linda and Bill Muir – 09/01/2011

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bitcoin bitcoin – 09/17/2011

i am her mom, and I will always look to Dawn for her wonderful ways of teaching us how to live a beautiful life. How empty my life seems now without here. It was almost like losing a limb….my heart is broken into many pieces….but slowly I am finding the glue to put it all back together….that glue is found in all the members of our family…Devonne, Dianne,Dee Dee, Doug…my husband Bill. Being surrounded by their support and their love is unquestionably healing. Friends and neighbors, too…..I never realized there was so much love trying to reach out to all of us. Losing Dawn is a huge life changing tragedy….She was so brave, and she was only 53.

Linda Muir – 11/02/2011

A day or so after Dawn died, her youngest sister wrote a poem. I think it should be included here:

THE INEXPLICABLE HAPPENED IT SEEMS

The inexplicable happened it seems
Only it wasn’t in my dreams
The sorrow weighs down my core
Mires my heart, my mind forlorn

The surge of loss arrives in waves
Of turbulent and tossing seas of grey
The world, it changed today
When your spirit left our midst

Then in a moment
My sorrow slides away
But I race to catch it
Lest I start to feel
Less than
The grief I need to heal

The smallest mundane thing
Makes me cry, but then I see
Your sparkling eyes
Glow of your smile
The music in your voice
Laughter shared freely
I stop and think
Is this how she’d want us to feel?

The love you gave us without condition
Then protected us from all that was unkown
To rise and join a better place
We’ll know as paradise

Wrapped in love
I’ll forge ahead
Remembering your gifts:
Live life to the fullest limit
Surround yourself in nature’s beauty
Wield courage, take life head on
Stop to wonder at the bounty
That is the life we are given
To enjoy each and every moment in
The paradise on earth we can’t explain

Dianne Elizabeth Rosemark

Linda Muir – 11/02/2011

I am thankful for the lovely memories of my sister, and for her inspiration still working through us. Thanksgiving at her house was just as she would have wished it, with husband Carey, family and friends working together to prepare a meal and a setting that honored her love for such gatherings and the work she put into them. Dawn could not be there this time in person, but we know her spirit and we felt it among us.

Doug Thompson – 11/29/2011

Dawn brought such sunshine to all that knew her and is greatly missed. I am so priveledged to have known and felt the warm glow of her spirit.

Diana Roberts – 01/18/2012

from Dawn’s mom, Linda
It has been over 6 months since my daughter Dawn passed away….my heart is so heavy and I cannot think anything will ever be “normal” again. Always, every moment she is on my mind. I still don’t know where she is……I didn’t know I could cry so many tears.

Thank God for the family I still have and for my husband Bill.

I could not go on if I didn’t have them surrounding me with their love. I cherish each of them……

I miss hearing Dawn’s voice on the phone.

Linda Muir – 01/23/2012

It’s good to get a fresh way of looknig at it.

Philly Philly – 01/24/2012

we just passed the one year anniversary of the death of our Dawn, our oldest daughter, who fought this dread disease for over 9 years. it never beat her down, she was so brave, so beautiful. I am her mom. I miss her every moment of every day. Her dad, Bill wrote a wonderful remembrance for the newsletter of Compassionate Friends. CF is an organization for the parents and siblings of children who have died. it helps to know that there are others who are sharing the painful journey of the loss of a child, a baby, a grown daughter, or anyone who has died before their time. i encourage you to seek out a CF chapter in your town and get and give support.
Bill will add his words to this site very soon.
I love you, Dawn Renee’…….my hope is that we will be together some day in the afterlife…….please let there be a heaven, dear God

linda muir – 07/26/2012

This month marks the passage of one year since our daughter left us, after a nine year struggle against the ravages of ovarian cancer, and there is no way that these inadequate words can express the depth of the void that Dawn’s absence has left in our lives. The brightness of her presence among us cannot be replaced, but we are called to accept the reality of her loss, and to embrace and be grateful for the joy that her fifty-three years has brought to our lives.

As difficult as her loss has been, we know in our hearts it pleases her to see that each member of her family has used the love she left with us to draw ever closer to each other, and the great lesson of her life has been that adversity, no matter how difficult, can never be allowed to become who and what we are.

This is her gift to us, her parents, her siblings, her husband, and her friends, and is what has given real meaning to her life. Our acceptance of this gift is what can help give meaning to our lives, and will be the best way to express our heartfelt gratitude for hers.

Bill Muir – 07/27/12

William Muir – 07/27/2012

This month marks the passage of one year since our daughter left us, after a nine year struggle against the ravages of ovarian cancer, and there is no way that these inadequate words can express the depth of the void that Dawn’s absence has left in our lives. The brightness of her presence among us cannot be replaced, but we are called to accept the reality of her loss, and to embrace and be grateful for the joy that her fifty-three years has brought to our lives.

As difficult as her loss has been, we know in our hearts it pleases her to see that each member of her family has used the love she left with us to draw ever closer to each other, and the great lesson of her life has been that adversity, no matter how difficult, can never be allowed to become who and what we are.

This is her gift to us, her parents, her siblings, her husband, and her friends, and is what has given real meaning to her life. Our acceptance of this gift is what can help give meaning to our lives, and will be the best way to express our heartfelt gratitude for hers.

Bill Muir – 07/27/12

William Muir – 07/27/2012

THERE ARE NO WORDS TO CONSOLE US, NO MUSIC TO SOOTHE US. WE ARE THE ONES LEFT BEHIND. THE ONES THAT MUST ENDURE THE HEARTBREAK OF LOSING A CHILD. A YEAR AND 2 MONTHS PLUS, THIS MOTHER IS STILL GRIEVING, STILL AT A LOSS. HOW DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN?
I AM GRATEFUL TO THE MEMBERS OF THE TEAM THAT IS GOING TO RUN AGAIN THIS YEAR IN SACRAMENTO, IN THE NAME OF DAWN. GO, TEAM DAWN.
I THANK MY OTHER CHILDREN WHO HAVE CRIED TEARS WITH ME. SO SAD TO LOSE A SISTER.
I HONOR MY HUSBAND, BILL, AS HE HAS STOOD BY ME. HE HAS SEEN OUR WORLD TURN UPSIDE DOWN SINCE DAWN HAS LEFT US. HE HAS GRIEVED AND CRIED TEARS RIGHT ALONG WITH ME. HIS STRENGTH HAS BEEN AN INSPIRATION TO ME.
DURING THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER, THE MONTH OF DAWN’S BIRTH, WE WILL GATHER WITH THE LOCAL CHAPTER OF “COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS” AND WE WILL ALL PARTICIPATE IN A “BUTTERFLY RELEASE” AT A PARENTS HOUSE. COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS ARE MEMBER OF A CLUB NONE OF US WANT TO BE A MEMBER OF. WE HAVE ALL LOST A CHILD.
WE WILL ALSO CELEBRATE DAWN’S SUNRISE DATE WHICH IS SEPTEMBER 14 WITH A GROUP OF PARENTS AT THE MONTHLY MEETING HERE IN BREVARD, NC. WE WILL REMEMBER HER WITH LIGHTED CANDLES AND PRAYERS.
MY DEAREST DAUGHTER, I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR BEAUTY, YOUR BRAVERY AND YOUR INDOMITABLE SPIRIT.
DEAR GOD, HOLD HER IN YOUR ARMS UNTIL I CAN GET THERE TO HOLD HER IN MINE.

LINDA MUIR – 08/27/2012

Glad you found the presentation inettesring. It looks to me like there is a growing interest in GPS/mobile games. I think you’ll find a good number of teachers interested in finding out more.

Asia Asia – 09/03/2012

In 2011 Dawn’s friends and co-workers began TEAM DAWN and participated in the 2011 Run to Break the Silence, in her memory. The 2011 Run to Break the Silence was a 5K race to fundraise for ovarian cancer. We had several of Dawn’s family and friends join in and donate to the event. There were a total of 16 participants and we raised a total of $1,945.

On September 15, 2012 TEAM DAWN participated in the 2012 Let’s ROC – Let’s Run for Ovarian Cancer. This year the 5K race supported the Ovarian Cancer Education & Research Network (OCERN). OCERN’s goal is to educate women and their families about the disease and also raise much needed funds to further ovarian cancer research. TEAM DAWN 2012 had 11 participants and raised a total of $770.

TEAM DAWN has been a great way to honor Dawn’s memory. Helping to organize and participating in TEAM DAWN has personally helped me in the grieving process. Dawn and I were co-workers who became good friends. She brought passion, energy and a ray of sunshine to the workplace. At the end of 2008 Dawn and I transferred to a new office together. We had cubicles side by side and worked very closely together as we had at our previous office. I miss joking with her over the cubicle wall, being invited into her cubicle for a chat over a cup of tea, taking walks with her on break (or as she called it “walkie talkie”), hearing her laughter and seeing her smile. I will never forget my dear friend.

Looking forward to organizing TEAM DAWN 2013…

Melissa Ley – 09/21/2012

Dear Dawn,

I miss you.

xo

Diana Roberts – 09/24/2012