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For those of you who donít know me my name is Angela and I am Amandaís older sister. I couldnít believe it when I heard the devastating news that my sister was gone. Amanda was only 36 years old and had so much life left to live. Today is a tragic and sad event, yet Amanda would have wanted us to celebrate her life and speak about her with a smile on our face. She loved being the centre of attention and today she is the star.

Amanda was not only my little sister but she was my first friend. We spent endless hours together playing as children. Then we got a brother, Adam and they became an instant team. Playing somehow turned to torturing me with roller coasters, snakes and bugs yet she had one special torture that she reserved just for AdamÖ she would threatenÖIím going in the oven. Amanda was always fearless. When Amanda was 8 we got our own real life doll, John. She hated to leave his side. She was always the adoring sister to him. She would tuck him in and read him bedtime stories.

As a child my sister always walked to her own drumbeat. She hated conventional items.. like clothing and was never afraid to try something new. On one vacation Adam and I decided to take water skiing lessons, not Amanda.. it was wind surfing for her. She was always compassionate. She would always bring home the kids that didnít have a friend. She was always aware of injustices in the world and was never afraid to voice her opinion. She was kind to everyone.

As her teen years approached she partied like a rock star, she loved my parents but she put them through the ringer. She was surrounded by a bunch of friends that she adored, loved to wear her rock t-shirts and blast her music loud. I donít know how many times a day she listened to that Poison album. She was out for the adventure of a lifetime. She was always after the big story to tell. She wanted to experience everything and anything. She was a rock star and wanted to live a rock star life so she headed west with her backpack, then everything changed.

I got a call from her telling me she was pregnant and needed me to pick her up at the airport . She flew home from BC to tell Mom and Dad in person they were going to be grandparents. She arrived in her plaid shirt, stretch jeans, colored hair and combat boots. She was so excited for Lydia to be born. She read every book, ate healthy and made a plan. She was so happy to have a daughter and wanted so much for her. She moved home, went to college and focused on being the best mom.

Lydia was her everything.

At age 23, everything changed for her. She was diagnosed with a disease called schizophrenia. And it is a disease. Iím angry that she got it. It robbed her of so many things. It robbed her of consistency, it robbed her of stability, it robbed her of being the mother, daughter and sister she could have been. It made her life anything but easy. Yet my sister never wanted boring. I ask that everyone in this room go home, read about mental illness and how it can affect every family. And next time you come across someone with it to please remember my sister and the joy she brought to so many people. She was my sister first, not the disease.

Amanda will always be remembered for her compassion, generosity and outrages stories. She loved rock and roll, butterflies, rum bum lilies as she liked to call them, painting, jewellery, a dirty joke, her friends and to laugh. She loved her nephews and never forgot a birthday. She loved Mom and Dad, Adam and John and her second mom, our Aunt Sharon. She loved our cousin Jimi like a brother and adored his boys. She loved her grandparents. She loved her husband Larry and enjoyed spending time with her extended family. And I know she loved me. And Lastly, she loved Lydia most. Her baby girl.

I am honored that Amanda was my sister and will look back on our time together with fond memories. Amanda, I will always remember you and the time we spent together. Your memory will live on in my heart forever.