Lost a Good Friend

In May, a friend of mine passed away before her time. She suffered from MS, but you’d never have known it just by talking to her.

Oh, you could have figured it out if you’d seen her in day-to-day life, needing certain medicines and being in a wheelchair and generally seeming much older than she actually was — that’s how degenerative diseases work. I’m just saying that based on a conversation alone, you wouldn’t get that.

What you’d get is a hilarious woman with a quick mind and sharp wit. She had deep, wise insights into so many things. To talk to Jean was to give your philosophies and critical thinking a workout.

Actually, the little blurb I posted here about two of life’s hardest questions came based on a conversation with Jean. I was getting married young and commented that people had warned me about not being ready. She pointed out that no one is ever ready. And when you think about it, no, no one ever is, completely. It’s an adjustment, no mater how much prep you’ve done, how old you are, how long you’ve known someone, how much money you have, whether you’ve lived with the other person, or how many books you’ve read. You can be more prepared, but no, you can’t be 100% ready. There will be some situation within your marriage that surprises you at some point — something you weren’t ready for. It’s the truth.

Back to Jean, though, I admired her ability not just to enjoy life’s simpler pleasures, but to savor them. She never cared about the latest Hollywood trends, the newest fashions, having the gadget-of-the-moment, and all kinds of other stupid bullshit. She looked forward to being outside on a nice day, going to the county fair, a downtown festival, fireworks in July — things we all cherish, but so rarely appreciate in the moment.

She, however, was in the moment, all the time. Was it because she had a disease and knew she would die young? Maybe that lent her some perspective; I can’t say. Whether it did or didn’t doesn’t change much. But even in her younger days, her favorite thing in the world was simply going to her job at the amusement park and running rides for kids and families and stuff. She got to enjoy the sun and be with her husband, and that was fine and dandy.

She was a person who really could be satisfied. Who really could look around and say, yeah, I do have everything I need to be happy. Even when she lost her husband way too young and got diagnosed with a horrible disease, she was upbeat and enjoyed what life had to offer.

Everyone could and should learn something from Jean. She inspired me. I’ll miss her.