I used to think of this word associated with only certain things, people from history like William Wallace in the movie "Braveheart" or other people who changed the course of so many lives with their actions. I no longer really think that.
Let me explain.
On Monday only three things kept running through my mind as I stood in the weight room, tears streaming down my face.
1. We're only 32, we're too young to have people's parents passing away.
2. What about the Grandchildren, they'll only remember bits and pieces about their Grandmother. She won't be there to see them grow up.
3. Cancer sucks
At 3:00am Monday morning one of our closest childhood friends Mother passed away. Chad was Kyle's best friend and it would be fair to mention that Chad had an extremely rough childhood / teenage years so they had been through an awful lot together. I've known Chad just as long as Kyle but we don't have quite the same bond.
Chad's Mother Jo had a profound impact on so many people's lives, Kyle and I can certainly can speak for her impact on ours. After going through some extremely emotional scarring events she manged to raise three children to become some outstanding individuals. All on her own (with the help of her friends and family) to be respectful, smart, loving productive adults. For Kyle and I, she was a pillar of strength and courage in a time when our marriage was falling apart. She never once required us to be anything but ourselves, our broken, scared, falling apart selves and she met us right where each of us were. She never stopped believing in the power of faith and that it would hold us tightly together even when we couldn't see the ropes.
She never re-married, she spent her time teaching, tutoring, giving of her time, energy and heart to others. She had a special heart for children and her Christian ministry to them spans 20 years.
What changed my meaning of that word "Fearlessness" was stories about Jo in her last days. My Aunt Dena stopped by and we spoke about this word in depth and what it means to each of us just the week before. After beating Cancer herself she's giving a lot of time to expressing her emotions and re-examining her entire life. I wonder what would happen if we all had that kind of perspective! Anyway, in the last days Jo would talk about how "she wished everyone could feel the kind of joy she was experiencing from God at that moment" and finally "how she was ready to go home." She wasn't afraid of what was next, she opened her arms wide and invited it in. It's so rare we look at situations like this and get to see a true saint preparing to meet her maker. We admire her strength and courage, even her fearlessness, but at the same time, realize she's just following her path, the path laid out specifically for her.
So while I'm worrying about mundane things this week like heart rates, paces and whether to ride my bike inside or out, I think of how small these things are in a life scheme and how I want to try to be more like Jo, touching the lives of so many others.. somehow, someway.. maybe in my own way with my own gifts, but somehow.
Hug your loved ones tight today. Tell them how much they mean to you and how blessed you are to have them in your life. I was blessed by a women named Jo Nellis. She showed me a true example of selflessness and fearlessness that I will never forget. She encouraged me, believed in me and loved me no matter what kind of state I was in.
I will miss you dearly Jo, and my heart goes out to your family as they say goodbye to you today, but just for now.