Bangor Business Owner, Wife and Mother, Eliza Butler Passed Away New Year’s Day
I, like many, first crossed paths with Eliza Butler at her Bangor candy shop, Specialty Sweets.
In fact, I think the first time I ever met her, I had gone in to pick out a special treat for my son who had just started potty training. He chose some chocolates in the shape of footballs.
I remember that she shared with me her experience potty training with her own kids. And that's how we connected; as moms. I went on, from that encounter, to like the Specialty Sweets Facebook Page.
And through the years I saw her not only post cool stuff about her business but also include updates on her growing family in these posts, which was kind of neat because my family was also growing.
She had 4 kids. I had 4 kids. She homeschooled. I homeschooled. She was always sharing positive experiences she had as a mother, and I just loved that and could relate because I felt the same way about my kids.
Butler stepped away from her role as a business owner in 2019, to focus on her family and devote more time to her kids, at which point Specialty Sweets closed. But then, in 2021, even though she had been out of the public eye for a while, Butler reactivated the Specialty Sweets Facebook page to share with her former customers the news that she had recently been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
As someone who was at best a casual passerby in her life, I was captivated by just how much she loved her family, her community, and her life. If I was devastated for her, I could only imagine how those people who knew her best were feeling.
People like her longtime friend of 2 decades, Lisa Liberatore.
"...she's the reason for all the good in my life...honestly...She was the person in my life that gave me direction and inspired me to step into the unknown and have faith."
Liberatore, like any awesome friend would, quickly rallied folks to start supporting this precious local mother and her family. She, along with numerous other friends and community members, organized fundraising events, rallies, and prayer vigils.
Liberatore also helped produce a fundraising video for Butler, featuring Eliza and her four children.
"I really wanted to do something special that showed Eliza's relationship [with] each kiddo because it was so special. We had to reschedule the filming several times because she was so sick but we got it done and honestly, I hope it brings the kids some peace. I'm so thankful UTC was able to bring my vision to life- they truly captured something special with this commercial."
Watching this video you can see, for yourself, what Liberatore was talking about.
Through every up and down, Butler shared videos and pictures of her battle on both her personal social media site and the Specialty Sweets Facebook platform.
Despite dealing with setbacks like allergic reactions to chemo treatments and battles with pneumonia, she always had a positive attitude and a deep love for her family.
She would, in an honest and open way, talk about the procedures and tests, the different methods of attack that both her healthcare professionals and her family were utilizing to fight this cancer.
She'd go into detail about what she was feeling, hoping, and praying for. It wasn't always easy to watch because it hit you right where you lived, at home. But with every update she would post, there was always an underlying theme of hope, unwavering faith, gratitude, and a pure humility most of us could only hope to strive for.
She represented so many different parts of our community; the mothers, the wives, the sisters and daughters, the homeschoolers, the women, the entrepreneurs... the list goes on. We could all see ourselves in this brave, sweet woman. And so her fight became our fight. And those who were following her journey were rooting for her all the way.
Most recently, she had spent some time battling terrible fevers that put her in the hospital for a short time at the beginning of December. I remember watching one of the updates in which she was eager to get home, not only for the holidays but because she didn't want to miss her daughter's birthday.
Her friends organized a large prayer vigil outside the facility where she was being treated. They even live-streamed the event. It was a beautiful and impressive outpouring of support.
Thankfully, she did make it home in time for both the holidays and her daughter's birthday.
Then, on New Year's Eve, I noticed online that a call was put out to pray for Eliza because she had gone back into the ER.
New Year's Day I woke up to read the news that Eliza Butler, the mom we had all come to know and love, as such a positive and powerful fighter, had passed away.
It's been a few days and the news has left me with pangs in my heart; pangs for her devoted husband Wade, pangs for her beloved children, Jacoby, Penny, Zachary, and Emily, and pangs for her amazing friends, family, and the community from near and far who supported her.
But this entire situation has also given me some hope. To watch so many, led by Butler's example, step outside of their comfort zone to give so generously of their time, talents, and money to support this beautiful, brave woman and her family, was awe-inspiring.
Her good friend Lisa said it best I think:
"She touched so many lives- I'm constantly blown away by her impact on this world. She was a fighter til the end and she loved fiercely!!!"
Liberatore says since Butler's passing, people have been reaching out to share their stories of how Eliza and her very open, vulnerable, and genuine story have impacted others...even saving lives!
One woman wrote: "By Eliza sharing her story, I got my 'lump checked' in September 2021 and was diagnosed in October. Breast cancer wasn’t on my radar at 38. She saved my life and I wish I could have done the same for her."
Eliza's husband, Wade, wanted to share a statement from the family:
"We are so grateful and thankful for the outpouring of love and kindness to our family. Eliza’s cancer journey was hard on everyone who knew and loved her. Because of the generosity shown to our family, we were able to make memories over the last 1.5 years. Eliza was also able to do everything she needed to help extend her life to be with us. For that, we are forever grateful to those who supported and prayed for us!"
To those who loved her, we wish to extend our most genuine and heartfelt condolences.
May her legacy live on within each and every life she touched, especially with her husband and children.
If you wish to make a donation to help Eliza's husband and children, simply click this link here.
A service to honor Eliza is in the works for next month. The family will announce the details in the coming weeks.