I received some bad news this morning.
My friend, Jackie passed away this morning after a long and arduous battle with cancer.
I met Jackie a few years ago. Our first meeting was kind of brief, I was conducting a sing-along for a ward activity, and Jackie sat on the lawn with me and about 20 other people and sang camp songs and hymns and folk songs and silly songs. After we were finished, she came up to me and we exchanged guitar stories. By that time (although I didn't know it then), Jackie had already been diagnosed and started her fight with cancer.
I didn't think too much about Jackie for quite awhile after that. She was just kind of a girl that I knew. Then about a year and a half ago, Ilsa invited me to go out to Jackie's home with some of our friends. At that time Jackie's cancer had progressed to the point that she rarely made the 30-40 minute drive from her rural area to my very metropolis-like area. So, I joined them all, and we were able to visit and laugh with Jackie and her parents for about an hour. I remember when I left, I felt lifted, and joyed, and much more at peace than I had felt when I arrived.
That was kind of the way things went from there. Every month or two after that, we would get together and go visit Jackie and her parents. I started bringing the guitar and the songbooks, and we would spend about 30 minutes visiting and laughing and about 45 minutes singing. Again, every time I left Jackie's home, I felt lifted and strengthened, and like I could take on the world.
I remember especially our visit to her last February. It was a bleak time for me, a time when a lot of things were up in the air in my life, and to be honest, a time when I wasn't positive that I ever had been happy or ever would be happy again. (You know how you get that way when things are bad? It's hard to remember that things used to be good. That's why it's a good idea to keep a journal.) We went to see Jackie, and I laughed for the first time in about two weeks, one of those good, long, tears-coming-out-of-your-eyes-'cause-you're-being-so-dang-silly laughs. And, as I was laughing, I knew that things were going to work out, and I was going to find happiness again.
That's the kind of gift that Jackie had.
I'll miss her terribly.
(note to Melissa C--you are the reason I even learned to play the guitar in the first place. What a joy it has been for me to learn that, and to share it. Thank you.)