"What I want people to know is that she freaking did life well," says Laura McKeithen, her mom.
One day, Liza Burke got a headache as she rested during her spring break. Upon visiting the doctor, she found out she had a brain hemorrhage. The 21-year-old was later diagnosed with an aggressive, malignant brain tumor. She died six weeks later on April 28. "That tumor may have taken her life, but it didn't slow her down," her mother, Laura McKeithen, 55, told PEOPLE.
"Her legacy is to live life to its fullest," says her mom, who signs emails #LiveLikeLiza. "What I want people to know is that she freaking did life well. I wish I could do my life as well as she's done in her life." She is remembered by her mother as a "brave, fearless, adventurous, and joyful" woman.
She was born in Asheville, N.C., and was the youngest among her three siblings. Liza has a 26-year-old brother, Jack, while her older sister, Edie was 10 years old when she died in May 2008 of a rare genetic disorder. Liza was 6 when her sister died. After Edie's death, Liza became closer to her mother and both went on many adventures together. "That was a gift that Edie gave me," Laura said. "I knew I couldn't take it for granted. So as a mom, I have no regrets."
Liza and her mother also spent a semester in San Pancho, Mexico after they rented their apartment in Asheville. After finishing school, Liza became an English teacher at a local elementary school. "They adored her," her mother said. At this time, an interesting thing happened. The mother-daughter duo got locked out of their rental home. Liza, her "fearless daughter climbed up a ledge and jumped into their house through their window."
For her education, Burke earned a scholarship to the University of Georgia, where she completed her education in business management and Spanish. She called her mom almost every day when she walked to her class. She was also the maid of honor when her mom remarried 1 ½ years ago after she reconnected with her college boyfriend during the pandemic.
Liza Burke, a 21-year-old college student at the University of Georgia, died Friday, nearly two months after she sustained a brain hemorrhage during a spring break trip to Mexico, according to her mother.https://t.co/svrsYy88C6— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 1, 2023
Liza Burke studied and traveled the world. "She's been to more countries than I've been to," said her mom. When she studied abroad in Barcelona, she traveled to different places over the weekend. Last year, she spent her spring break in Greece.
Upon taking her to the hospital because of her headache, she had a brain hemorrhage. They soon found a new hemorrhage in her brain. But her mother still remained hopeful. They were soon told Liza was not recovering and that she would require hospice care. Her mother rented a beautiful Airbnb, "At that point, really all she could do was push on us with her toes," her mom said. She lived here for 9 days and then she died. "She drew her last breath with Jack holding her hand."
"I am celebrating the fact that she really lived it big. She lived it big," her mom said.
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