The sun glowed orange during rush hour this morning. My heart sagged under a weight of joy and I slowed down to take pictures –
I almost sent them off to you.
Then I remembered …
I recalled a recent dialogue we had.
Me: Could I use these pictures of you, please? There’s such a beauty about you that’s riveting.
You: You can use every picture you want. You don’t have to ask. Surprise me!
So I’m surprising you today …
You: How long was your fight with cancer?
Me: The cancer battle was over a year and a half. My oncologist calls me a success case (I prefer miracle patient). I don’t look like myself in the picture, do I? Within two weeks of your first chemo, the hair starts falling out and you mutate into someone else. I began to practice intentional thankfulness. When gratitude seeps in, joy is not too far behind. Those were beautiful, dark, lovely, intense and precious times. God sends angels, as you know, in many shapes and forms.
You: I don’t look like myself anymore, either. I was always on the go. Now it is my mind that is on fast.
The aircraft commenced its descent into Halifax last Thursday afternoon and my thoughts overflowed with vignettes from your heart –
- My mum sent the pink rose to me today … just because. The Ford Escape is on the lawn because Cam wanted me to see it. He just bought it yesterday as a second vehicle. My wheelchair van rides low so it’s not practical for snowy days ahead. I always loved a Ford Escape and Cam would drive a van.
- We have a cottage on the Bay of Fundy and watch the tides go in and the tides go out. Nature at its best. September is a special time. Most cottagers are only there on weekends, so the solitude and beauty is magnified. My paradise …
Your beloved Cameron –
- Cam and our brother-in-law are re-shingling the back of the cottage. It has been a busy day. For me, the moments when I can look out the window and see the eagle fly, sandpipers having their last meals before heading to South America and the magnificent clouds being reflected in both water and wet mud are highlights of my soul.
- Today it was 29 degrees and sunny, so I went out in my wheelchair to enjoy. On impulse I drove on my lawn around to my gardens to see the tulips and bleeding heart. I felt free until my wheelchair got stuck in soggy lawn. Resourceful Cam got blocks of wood and we managed to get out. BUT my tires were full of mud. Cam cleaned as much as he could off and them I wheeled myself in. A flashback hit me. How many times had I told the boys NOT to wear their dirty boots in the house? Cam, patient Cam, has been working at getting the wheels clean ever since!!!
JOY was your three-letter codeword –
- Went to the Festival of Lights today in Wolfville, where Cam and I met while going to Acadia University. At the farmer’s market, it was all about Indian food and entertainment. I got a dragonfly and the word JOY done with henna and several Indian silk scarves for Christmas gifts.
- I am waking up immediately to JOY in the morning for the next couple of weeks.
- What made my day? My careworker this morning for 4 hours was Holly. Someone that previously had only been there for my half hour tuck-ins at night. We were sitting at my kitchen table in the sun, when I asked her about her heart-shaped ring … and that was my further joy for the day.
You infused JOY into every moment, Judy, distilled, savoured, sipped on it, then infected the air you breathed and intoxicated those around you.
You: There is no such thing as coincidence.
Absolutely. I agree …
You: Maybe I came into your life to show you the other side of ALS. The joyful side.
You did just that. And you did it so well …
Your boys: your pride and JOY –
- Tim is home. Happy heart.
- Just got back from taking Tim to the airport. What a lovely visit and a wonderful son. He left such wonderful memories behind.
- Andrew came home on Friday and stays till this Friday. Check him out on You Tube in the Hot Fireman ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (Click here to watch Judy standing at Andrew’s side as he takes up the challenge.)
Matthew was home from Wednesday to Saturday. Shared the big news that Laura is pregnant! Be still my heart. We are so blessed.
Those grandbabies –
- Got a wonderful card in the mail today, with an ultrasound picture on the front and the announcement inside saying “It’s a boy!” Our third grandson is due the end of October. The Starrit genes were working again. OverJOYed!!!!
- He was born yesterday and all is right with the world. 8lb 11 0z of pure JOY! Yesterday was such an emotional day. Waiting, wondering, wishing, praying. And then the phone call came. Rejoicing, heart exploding, celebrating our new JOY! And then by 10.00 at night, emotional breakdown. Thinking about what I will be missing in his future, but being so overjoyed he is here. A part of me.
- He’s Henry now. Named after Cam’s dad. We are still on our baby high. Will be for quite a while.
- Cam just stenciled a picture of him onto a pillowcase.
- Tomorrow Andrew, Findlay and Eamon are coming for Thanksgiving weekend. I am beyond excited!!!
- I have arranged for the pilot, Debbie, of the only plane that travels to Sable Island, to come and speak about her experiences.
- I took pictures, but my hands were unsteady with excitement.
- Eamon just messaged me. Andrew is taking them to a movie. He likes to keep me informed.
Your sister —
- Tonight Linda comes. Any minute now.
- Linda is here and we are going to listen to the sixth CD of the Book Of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. This is our sixth Monday night doing it …
… and the whacky, wonderful friends –
- My friend, Mary, and sister are coming out to play a card game called Quiddler. A weekly event. I am on a winning streak.
- Mary brings muffins for Cam
- My tree is trimmed and …
… the Wild and Woolies are coming at 4.00. Laughter will abound.
- The Wild and Woolies have been getting together for over thirty years
Don’t forget the goats …
- Andrew and Cam have just taken the goats up the hill for a walk. If we let them loose too close to the house, they would eat all the flowers coming up …
- I always have flowers in my view. I even got flowers for Father’s Day!
Gotta be kid-ding – goats at a wedding?(The “kids” are included in Andrew and Shantel’s backyard nuptials) …
… and the chickens (of course) —
- Just had the chickens playing the xylophone at my window.
- Homecare just arrived, but chickens come first!
On living with ALS –
- I have a whole new view on listening. My boogie board is my voice now. People don’t wait until I finish writing and assume what I’m going to say and rush off to do their own thing. Also, they read it wrong, and I have to get their attention and underline a word or words.
- It cost less than $30 at Costco.
- I WAS a talker!
- I do most of my writing on my phone now.
- I am using my BiPAP for about 20 hours a day. It gives me the freedom of not having to think every time I take a breath. The strength in my hands has diminished as well. I will NOT let that keep me from living a full life but it has put limitations on what I can do. ALS sucks sometimes.
Sucks? The beast stinks …
- Thank you, my dearest friend, for caring so much
You have no idea how much, Judy …
About the annual ALS Walkstrong fundraising campaign —
- Success. Beyond resounding! My mind is still going. Still walking. Still enjoying yesterday. There were 59 people, including care-workers, friends and family on Judy’s Joys. I am blessed Truly blessed.
- Took 5-6 days to get over the walk. SO worth it!
We shared our rainbows, you and I —
In your home …
… in mine –
You: We are definitely sisters from another mother.
There’s no doubt about that!
You: The physical meeting somehow eludes us, but we are so much beyond that. We are so much closer than that. What we have done for each other is beyond friendship.
Me: Can’t wait to meet you, Judy. It will be odd, though. Kind of like having a first date after being married for a year!
You: I, too, want to meet you! If I could, I would be on a plane now. But the other side of reality is that I know I won’t be travelling by plane anymore. Too many uncertainties.
You: Wish, wish you lived nearby. Always thinking about you.
Me: Me too. I love how Cam cares for you, love the chickens, love the red bike. I even love your ghastly puns!
You: Our friendship goes much deeper. I needed you as much as you needed me. You took me outside of myself.
- By the way, Cam is going to mail a parcel to you tomorrow. No parcel from you yet. Tomorrow.
Your parcel arrived by express post on December 23rd. Icicles dripped off the eaves as the mailman hopped from one foot to the other and blew on his hands, while I hastily inscribed a signature on the electronic board he held out to me.
Such a treasure trove of thoughtful things inside …
Me: Did you make the Scrabble ornament? Love it!
You: Bought it at the ALS sale.
Me: It was meant for me.
You: I found your DREAMS, didn’t I?
You sure did!
We called on Christmas Eve, before heading out to church. Husband, Daughters and I sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas on speakerphone. Cam said you raised your arms in delight and crossed your hands over your heart.
On Christmas day we shared cameo moments.
You sent me –
and I sent these –
- Isn’t this fun?
- Our house was always the ‘go to’ house at Christmas. I used to make rolls and shape them in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees. Decorate them, of course, and wrap them in clear, cellophane with fancy ribbons. That is a thing of the past now, but Christmas still comes and goes!
I sent you a song on Saturday night. It came with my heart. Your response set my heart ablaze.
Click here to listen …
I picked up Cameron’s message on Sunday afternoon. You crossed over an hour after we last messaged each other.
Cousin Preman met me at the airport and drove me to the afternoon and evening visitations.
I met Cam and Linda, Mum and your boys. And the Wild and Woolies, of course.
Linda told me she’d packed my Christmas box of goodies for Cam to mail. She recognized the necklace I wore.
I laughed with the Wild and Woolies. Such stories they had to tell …
It felt like I’d known your friends and family forever.
Your final farewell on Friday was one immense celebration of joy. The church was packed.
An unusual, uplifting occasion. You planned it all yourself, Linda said in her tribute.
Your beloved Bhangra Boys danced their hearts out.
(Click here to dance with Judy and her Bhangra Boys, on her birthday last year.)
I picked up my tea bag and one of your dainty, embroidered white hankies on my way out.
(Click here for photos and video clips of Judy’s funeral Celebration of Joy)
It felt strange to visit your home on Saturday. To walk up the ramp and knock at your kitchen door.
Joy all over the house, pouring from every corner.
Cam and I sat in your room. We chatted like we’d known each other forever.
My Christmas package finally made it out to you after New Year’s, he told me. Two days before your final departure. Cam said you smiled when he showed it to you
He showed me your rubber chickens. I peeped into the henhouse on my way out.
You wrote three months ago: PS: Oct 11 – went to my regular 3 month appointment with all the specialists today. They are all pleased with how I’m doing …
The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability, isn’t it?
I’m sipping, as I remember and write, from the mug I found nestled in my surprise Christmas box.
The dragonfly brightens my kitchen window. I love how it begins to burn when the sun seeps through.
We never said ‘hello’ in person, Judy. I never got to write about what I discovered in the bombed out jungle graveyard in Tellipallai, Jaffna. This was not how our Dear Judy travel series was supposed to end.
I’m thankful you found this blog and reached out in joyful friendship.
(Click here to read how we met)
Thank you, my courageous friend. You are proof that a purpose-driven life does not necessarily embrace a bed of roses. You were a true and unique gift.
- Loving you from afar. Love, xx Judy
I love you too, Judy …
We’ll meet face-to-face. On the other shore some day, when my own journey’s done.
His Master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the JOY of your master.” (Matthew 25:23 RSV)
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