Been thinking a lot about breast cancer this week as a group of caring yogis from Yogasphere (my home studio where I teach and practice), are raising money and preparing to participate in an upcoming outdoor yoga event and fundraiser in Philly this weekend (check it out here: YogaOnTheSteps).
It was about this time five years ago I was raising money and preparing to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. As my dear friend Joyce trod through an exhausting routine of chemo and radiation appointments, her family, friends and I walked in her honor, donning powder pink tee-shirts with Re-Joyce! boldly emblazoned on the front. Our group, I should note, included more than a few large men. Men who would have greatly preferred a more masculine look to the pink tees, complete with dainty flowers and a lucinda calligraphic font on the front. But we loved Joyce. And would do anything to support her, so onto the streets of downtown Seattle in solidarity to beat breast cancer we went.
One year later, our group larger, we wore the shirts again. And walked. Only this time, Joyce was gone. We were rejoicing her spirit, but heartbreakingly, no longer her living, breathing presence.
Joyce gave me good reason to Re-Joyce! Older and wiser, but very much a contemporary in her ability to understand my current state of thought, fears, hopes, and frustrations, she encouraged me always to be true to myself. I came to know Joyce through my ex-husband. Came to know her in my past life, really, as so much has changed for me: new home on the east coast, new relationship, new focus on living my passion (yoga teaching vs. the corporate path). Many friends from my past stayed there, in the past, as naturally happens in cases of divorce. But not Joyce. Even if she were alive today, I know full well she’d be a friend for life. And as time marches on, she’s still very much in my life.
It’s interesting. She passed while I was still trying to navigate my way through a crazy maze with no foreseeable exit. I didn’t think of her much at the time. I didn’t think much about anyone, or anything, except if, or how, I was ever going to find the door to happiness. But as I made my way through, she kept popping into my head. At times when no one else’s words or sentiments brought me solace.
Alone crying, wondering if I’d be able to support myself financially, she came to me. A memory in earlier, happier times, relaxing on the bow of my ex-husband’s boat, reading and relaxing. “You are smart and capable, Shannon. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what to do.” Huh? This came out of nowhere. I didn’t prompt it, or mention anything about my fears. But Joyce knew. And assured me in a clear, succinct fashion, that should anything happen, I’d be just fine on my own. Should that ever happen.
When I felt crappy about myself not too long ago in a dress I didn’t really like (but bought because the mannequin rocked it), I took it off and put on a longtime favorite black number, recalling an evening with Joyce years ago. At a gala auction, wearing the most beautiful beaded peach colored gown she insisted I borrow, she leaned in next to me and said, “you are special, and should always wear what makes you feel special.” I did feel special. Particularly special wearing the gown of a sophisticated, gorgeous, wise woman I was blessed and privileged to call my friend.
Now, years later, she comes to me more often. Comes to me when I question my strength. My resolve. She reminds me that life is short. Precious. And mine to seize and ReJoyce! in.
Thank you Joyce. I love you more every day.