Goodbye, dear friend.
Omitting names to veil the identities…
I became friends with J. during the summer of 2014. Timing is everything, right? A few years prior, when I was in search of an acupuncturist, L. gave me J.’s card… but I never called. I don’t know why. Then, in the summer of 2014, I started practicing yoga at the studio which was in the same building as L.’s massage/Reiki space. There, I befriended D. and J. Besides adoring them both in a professional capacity, D. a vivacious teacher of yoga and meditation and J. a skilled, attentive acupuncturist, we bonded in a sisterly way—my spiritual sisters. J. is the one who also introduced me to Young Living, the oils that have at some times saved and at all times enhanced my life; D. and I are Reiki sisters, training under the same master.
Last summer, J. and her husband adopted two wonderful rabbits from the Long Island Rabbit Rescue. They couldn’t have picked two more different rabbits. Lilah, now Laila, is a diminutive white rabbit, tiniest ears I’ve ever stroked. Rupert, now Rufus, is large in size and personality, brown in color. They were to be bonded, but J. stopped bonding sessions early last fall. I didn’t know why. Sessions were going great. Inconsequential now. Rufus and Laila happily live side-by-side. They are healthy. They are gorgeous.
As fall and winter 2015 chugged along, contact with J. was sporadic. I sensed she was “going through something” but when I asked, offered an ear, a shoulder, whatever, I was quickly shut down. So I minded my business outwardly and inwardly created some stories as to what was going on. Bottom line though, we hadn’t known each other long. Maybe this was just her way. I’m used to people floating in and out of my journey. I’m used to be the connector, the initiator, so this wasn’t all that alarming to me.
When the calendars turned to 2016, the disconnect ramped up. D. and I would joke: “Is she mad at you? Is she mad at me? Who pissed J. off and now she’s not calling us back?” I still had my acupuncture appointments. We would still talk during the whole treatment. Sometimes, J. would cry. But again, she would not let on, not even a morsel, of what was up. I had no choice but to shake it off. It wasn’t about me. And no matter what angle I tried, she wasn’t letting me in. I respected that and minded my own business. I did, however, squint when she wouldn’t take pre-payment for treatments anymore. But, as we often do in our egos, assumed it was something I did—maybe she was hoping I’d stop making appointments?
On June 29th, I got a message that changed the game here. M., who manages the space where J.’s office is housed reached out to me, asking if I’d heard from J. She hadn’t been at work for the entire month. Now I knew for sure the lack of communication wasn’t anything I or D. or anyone said/did/whatever. Something was up. I called D. We hatched a plan. After D. taught her class that evening, we would show up on J.’s front steps. And we did. My heart was pounding so profoundly as D. rang the bell—I imagined it bouncing out of my chest, cartoon-style. J.’s husband answered the door. I held my breath. D. did all the talking—I think. Moments of silence until we heard J.’s voice from inside the house say, “Let them in.”
Turns out, J. was battling a recurrence of a cancer that she had a few years prior, before I knew her, over this year of slipping away from us. By the time she let us in, which I firmly believe she had no intention of doing until we ambushed her, the cancer was winning. She couldn’t walk, sit up or smile. She was embarrassed, angry, tired. She shared some of her journey with us that evening, as D. and I sat on her kitchen floor (after I checked on the bunnies, of course. They are both doing wonderfully. J.’s husband is a saint, for her and for their animal-family members). No one knew what was going on. It wasn’t just D. and I shut out.
I firmly respect that choice. I saw glimmers, as people started to find out what was going on, of the “You have to try…” or “You should be…” well-intentioned input from others that J. and her husband simply did not want. And I don’t blame them! These are two smart, well-researched, capable people. They knew what they were doing and choosing at this point. And sure, there are some who think it was “wrong” for J. not to tell even siblings of hers what was going on. But I think she was right, as long as that’s what she wanted.
As the summer bounced on, I saw J. a few times. I texted her every other day but rarely got a response. On Thursday, my text read, “Would you like a visitor today?” On Friday, J.’s husband responded and we decided I would come visit on Saturday, yesterday. I spent a nice chunk of my day there. It was as lovely as it could be. We laughed. It wasn’t all laughs though, but I’ll respect my ultra-private friend and keep those details to myself. While we were on the couch, J.’s husband mentioned that the rabbits needed their nails cut. My outstanding mentor and rescue director dropped everything she was doing and drove the 45 minutes there to give Rufus and Laila a little spa day, nails, grooming, snuggles.
I left, saying I love you and I’ll see you soon—all intentions to drop by Sunday or Monday. An hour or so after I left, I got incredibly tired. I attributed that to being drained from the day, an energy dump from an emotionally-trying afternoon. Shortly after that, I got a phone call from M. J. passed away. Somewhere over the rainbow…
We shared dinners, lunches, yoga classes, Young Living meetings and knowledge, bunny stuff, acupuncture sessions… and above all this, love. J. is a true trailblazer, an inspiration. My lesson, one of my many treasured take-aways from our short, yet deep friendship: Follow your bliss. If you aren’t happy at your job, in your relationship, in the chair you’re in, whatever, get up and change it. Don’t wait. Don’t “but what if…” Don’t do what anyone else thinks you should do. Do what makes you feel alive. Do what makes your heart sing and your soul crave more of that thing.
I just love you J.