Hundreds of people came to Twin Lakes Church in Aptos on Saturday morning where friends and family said farewell and helped celebrate the life of 25-year-old Natasha Noland, the young woman who was tragically killed in the party bus accident on July 27.
“Everybody here knows what she did to our hearts,” said her uncle, Jeff Rodgers. “And what she did to me in her photography, her loving in animals, and in her dance. That techno stuff, you know, the stuff you can’t really get no rhythm to [as he gave a few dance moves]. But she had a great, great heart.”
Pastor Gary Williams welcomed the guests and said a few words about Noland’s life before he introduced a slide show put together by close friends and family members. The visual memories of her life were displayed on a big screen accompanied by one of Noland’s favorite genre of music, techno.
Singer Lisa Leuschner Andersen, a former American Idol contestant, accompanied by pianist Christian Pursell, sang I Can Only Imagine and Wind Beneath My Wings as a tribute to more of the music that Noland enjoyed.
Cliff Sammet was one of Noland’s closest friends and talked about the time they first met five years ago when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When he needed someone during a critical time of his life, Noland, who worked as a buyer at Pacific Wave surf shop, came to Sammet’s side with no hesitation.
“The time she spent with me, talking with me, and filling my heart with light and hope was a gift that goes beyond anything I can put into words. I feel so blessed to have had your daughter, your sister, and your friend in my life. Natasha’s truly a timeless soul who has made such a huge impact in the lives of so many.”
Sammet also reminisced about the happy moments and talked about some of the things he remembers most about her.
“In Little League I can still remember hearing her cheer for me in the stands like it was yesterday,” said Sammet. “Talent shows and school assemblies were always something to look forward to, we knew that the Noland sisters were about to lay down some serious moves.”
“If you had a chance to meet her it would not take much time to feel her warmth, compassion and acceptance,” said Sammet.
”We all know she was passionate about life and how she felt about thinking positive and working towards your dreams. If she were here, she would say ‘I know you will miss me, keep me in your heart. But I want you to move on to live, to love, to hug, to laugh, and to dance.’”