We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
— E. M. Forster
about page, lifeisaprettyword.com

My name is Lena Kay Rufus. Since March 28, 2003, I no longer live on Earth. On that day, quickly and unexpectedly, I passed away from meningitis.  

During my childhood, I enjoyed being around farm animals as well as living on the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Northern Wisconsin. I played Suzuki violin during first grade. I loved going to school and excelled in most subjects. 

Although my life was short, my accomplishments were many. I was active at Washburn High School where I studied diligently. I was able to spend most of my senior year enrolled in courses at Northland College. I played the clarinet and after learning French, traveled to Paris. I served as an officer in several high school clubs and associations. I was a Stanford University student at the time of my passing. As you can see, education was crucial to me.

On April 1, 2000, my life celebration ceremony took place on my home reservation. I said goodbye to hundreds of people I loved dearly. There are too many loves to mention except for Mom and Dad, who supported me in all aspects of my life. On this date also, the tribal elders honored me with the Ojibwe name of Ogitchidakwe, warrior woman. 

Look for the "Lena Speaks" area of this site for selected pieces written throughout my life. Mom thinks I was a good writer although I never thought so. Some day, she will release "Hoofen Floofen Island", a children's story I wrote about adventure, love, happiness, and accomplishment. 

about page, lifeisaprettyword.com

My name is Monica Sword. I am Lena's mother. As a writer and artist, I show others how they can mindfully find their way to a happier and more fulfilling existence. 

My life was not always this way.

Three family members’ deaths at an early age caused me great sadness, especially the death of my only child, Lena. I struggled to balance home life with a challenging career. Several physical manifestations and discontent from this imbalance contributed to losing my way. I yearned to create a deeper connection with nature, the universe, and people. 

I tried everything from happy pills to talk therapy. Important life relationships started and ended. My library was full of self-help books. I tried going "back to school". I set up a basement studio thinking I would surely make time to be creative. While these activities kept me busy and much was learned, nothing really stuck. 

Then I discovered the problem wasn’t with my work ethic or what I thought people expected of me. The problem was how I was applying my conscientious, high-achieving style. 

Once I saw that honoring my passions, being mindful of my emotional reactions to life events and focusing on total self-care are applicable to a conscientious and high-achieving lifestyle, I developed a creative mindset that helps me do my best work.  

Although my grief experience is on-going, my life now has a wonderful flow of writing, painting, drawing, and connecting with people.  

 


A sculptural tribute to Lena, commissioned by Joe Russo, created by Sara Balbin of Dragonfly Studio.


TeachAIDS receives grant from
The Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund


The Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund is managed through InFaith Community Foundation, formerly the Lutheran Community Foundation. This fund provides scholarship opportunities in a variety of areas. To date, the following organizations are fund recipients: