Life.

shannon, don and meMy friend died last week. She was 28… hysterical, determined and I loved her.  The emotions come in waves. Between the kids and a full time job though, there is limited time to grieve and I don’t know if that’s such a bad thing.   There are moments when I think of something she did or said and I become so overwhelmed by emotion that I can’t breath, but these same memories bring me such a sense of joy that I can’t help but smile.  What made Shannon so amazing was her absolute love of life.  Even in the face of death from her three year fight with brain cancer, she was quoted as saying, “It only hurts so bad because we have it so good.”

And that’s what I’m left with.  This overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all that I have and an understanding that life is always a combination of good and bad moments.  I think too often we focus our attention on obtaining some ultimate happiness, some moment in time when everything will be perfect, but that’s not life.  As cliche as it may sound, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”  When Shannon’s cancer returned this past September, I was in the midst of motherhood, raising my then 5 month old daughter and 3 year old son.  My friend Whitney was in the midst of planning her wedding, of which I am a bridesmaid and Shannon would have been maid of honor.  As things were progressively getting worse for Shannon, Whitney and I spoke one night and she questioned how life could be so good for us while also so bad.  My response…that is life.

Life is all of the little moments that bring you joy and sadness and happiness and laughter.  This realization and belief has made me so unbelievably grateful to have my healthy, beautiful children.  I find myself enjoying our every day tasks, like brushing teeth and taking a bath or getting Don’s hair cut…and don’t even get me started on the park!  Being a part of Shannon’s last few months, as painful as it has been, has taught me a great deal.  To enjoy each day and fill it with purpose, to let those I love know how deep I care about them, and to have compassion for others because you can never truly know what someone else is going through.

I miss Shannon terribly, but I am so much the better for having known her.

23 thoughts on “Life.

  1. This is so lovely! I am dealing with a loss in our family and having a lot of the same feelings. Thank you.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss Jillian, and so touched by what your friendship and your friend’s battle with cancer gave you in perspective on life. Thinking of you.

  3. Jillian – a beautiful tribute to Shannon. She was lucky to have a friend like you with whom to spend her last months. Thank you for sharing her story – it is those memories that will last a lifetime.

  4. Shannon’s life was a great and glorious work of art. You are inheriting from her more than you currently may know. Thank you for sharing. I hope it helps your heart.

    I think often of the day you called me when Shannon’s cancer was first discovered. Thank you for trusting your friends so completely.

  5. Sorry for your loss, Jillian. We’re all very fortunate to have special people in our lives. Thanks for the reminder to hold those people close, and treasure each moment together.

  6. I can only say that was a beautiful tribute for your friend because if I say anything else the tears will be falling. I’m so sorry for your loss. Shannon seems like the kind of person any of us would have been privileged to have as a friend.

  7. Beautifully written Jillian. I’m so sorry for your loss. You are 100% right with how we must enjoy each and everyday, because life is so unpredictable. Sending you love and support.

  8. I am so very sorry for your loss, Jillian. What a beautiful post and tribute to your wonderful friend. And thanks for the reminder that we must cherish every day and love those around us. Always.

  9. Oh my god, this is beautiful, Jillian. I’m so sorry you lost your friend and yet so inspired by the good you’re finding in it. You (and this post) are truly inspirational. Wishing you peace and love as you grieve Shannon. ♥

  10. I am totally crying at my desk. Beautiful Jillian. What courage it took for you to express yourself in writing so soon after Shannon’s death. Sending you love always.

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