I met one of the most vibrant and alive women a few years ago at a women’s networking event. The event itself was not fun and the women there were not welcoming. But, there was this one bright light that shinned from across the room. When she spotted me she came straight to me and introduced herself. You could tell she was filled with joy, the kind of joy you have when you love living your life.
We became fast friends. I was fascinated with her. She was 17 years older than me and had done one last life reinvention when we met. She had a life that reminded me of a beautiful patchwork quilt. It was full of life’s adventures, the hard times and the joyful times. She would easily share her stories and give me advice when needed.
In this last reinvention she sold jewelry. My career was just taking off and before my business trips she would come over and help me pick my outfits and pair the jewelry with them. If I did not have the right item, she would loan it to me. She taught me to take photos of the outfits so that I would remember what went with what.
It was the little things that I loved. How big she lived, how easily she laughed and how much she loved. Even in the face of adversity she never shrank or stopped smiling. One time she was leaving my house and as she backed out of the driveway and ran over my sprinkler system, which caused a huge stream of water to shoot high up in the air. In our dresses we tried to stop the water but ended up completely wet and laughing on the lawn as the water kept shooting high in the sky.
A year ago she came over to help me get my outfits and jewelry ready for my first red carpet event. I was a nervous wreck. She calmed me down and spent a few hours with me. Then she sat me down, and in a shaking voice as her eyes welled with tears told me she had a brain tumor.
She said only her family knew. She was so optimistic but very scared. She seemed more worried about me than about herself. I felt my heart constrict and my gut hurt. I was upset. This woman had walked through fire most of her life and finally had a very happy and rewarding life. How could this happen to her?
We talked about keeping a positive attitude, her angels and her plan to beat the tumor. This woman had just told me she had a tumor but still spent a few hours helping me with clothes and jewelry that day. My mind could not wrap around what was happening.
She did everything she could to beat the tumor. Her spirit was always high despite her body betraying her. She was constantly surrounded by friends and loved ones all the way until the end.
This morning at 2:30 my dear, sweet friend transitioned off this Earth. I know the angels are rejoicing her return. It is those of us left here behind that struggle with the empty space in our hearts. I know I will always carry her friendship and smile in my heart. When things get hard I will remember her tenacity and courage. For that, I am eternally grateful.
For now I hold her family in my prayers as they mourn such a bright light.