I’m not a huge fan of getting extremely personal in a public forum, but my heart has been steadily breaking since last week, and I feel compelled to share a few thoughts about the devastating passing of my dear friend Mary. I met her at Carleton College, where we were swimming lane mates and frequent troublemakers. She was my friend for almost 20 years and one of the very few people I count among my collection of life kindred spirits. Her voice has been such a presence that she often speaks through many of my favorite characters I have written in fiction pieces, and her sudden passing has left me raw, grieving and full of questions.
Mary left an imprint and a legacy that will stick with me. There are countless elements of my own way of being present in the universe that were influenced by her and that she also actively helped shape and nurture through the gift of her friendship. The biggest one actually relates to my previous post about stripping away fear and “doing it anyway”: She always gave me the courage to disregard negative, unsupportive people’s opinions and to experience the world without fear, which is probably one of the main reasons I continue to build a business based on my passions – even when it is a struggle – and why my life is colorful, surprising and full of exciting sparks. She regularly pulled me out of my comfort zone, even if just because whatever trouble we were getting into was going to make an unforgettable, hilarious story. And I was happy to wallow in that discomfort (especially since she was usually right there with me, encouraging me to proceed with gusto even when I felt stuck at my lowest point). It is Mary’s specific, unrivaled zest for adventure that helps me get back on the road when I lose my way and resolve daily to boldly take the risky curves.
I can’t wrap my words around the magnitude of the hole her absence has left. Frankly, I struggled to find the “Happy” in this week’s quotes until I began to relive specific memories and realize how much happiness and powerful light she brought into my life for the past two decades. So, in honor of my dear friend Mary and our many, many hours, days, weeks and years of shared laughter plus all the fierceness and compassion with which she lived her life, I wanted to share some quotes about joy.
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” — E.E. Cummings
“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.” — Mother Teresa (from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers)
“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” — Emily Dickinson
“No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you.” — Toni Morrison (from Beloved)
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss