June – the milestone month for you and your brother securing your driver’s license. Remember the day . . . you finally passed on June 13th, 2002. You were so happy! While Jamie got his five years ago today.
After many months of driving practice, lessons with the driving school instructor and two previous attempts with some very minor driving errors – you passed the test with new-found confidence! Lots of perseverance, with some trials including the times you hit the curb, slightly tapped the fender and endless practicing of exit ramps – all in hopes of passing the test.
Getting your license gave you much happiness. I remember the days after your passing, we were all feeling so sad and broken – that your brother had quietly claimed your driver’s license and Michigan ID.
I knew then and know now that all he wanted was to hold on to your happiness – seeing you happy. It was during those final weeks that you refused to let any of us hold on to a memory less than your vibrant, happy and fun self. This included your brother, for whom you had the most desire to see happy.
Amazingly you have challenged me to pursue the highest of all goals – happiness. The end toward which all other ends lead.
“Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.” — Epicurus
Want a more satisfying life? Invest time and energy in your friends and family. For those who knew Jodi – know she committed everyday in the practice of sharing her happiness with others.
The other day, I read a letter written by one of Jodi’s friends. In the letter Anna captured the essence of Jodi. Here’s what she wrote —
These words that Jodi stated to me so many times will forever stick in my mind as words of wisdom I will forever live my life upon; to always be yourself. To never accommodate your feelings for others. Always do what will make you yourself happy. Never settle for less. Always be the person you know you have always been. Don’t change who you are just to impress others.
Words spoken and commandments lived between two friends, who fiercely committed to their happiness and friendship many years ago. And now their lifetime friendship is a new lift of happiness shared between a friend’s mother and her daughter’s friend — now that’s truly important. What impact are you having on your friends?
It’s Father’s Day! We shall celebrate Father’s Day in a way that honors and thanks him for being so important in our lives. What I know for sure is that your Dad — was and is your biggest fan!
His adoration for you started the moment you were born – and has never seized. There were times during water polo games and swim meets, when he’d cheer, coach and even cry for your success. He knew you were capable of so much more – in fact my Dad believed the same in me, too.
I have realized that you both shared a part of each other and rightfully are truly his daughter. Let me know if I missed anything . . .
Your natural athletic skills, talents and strengths.
Your competitive spirit.
Your relentless work ethic.
You put others before yourself.
Your trip to the Olympic Swimming Time Trials.
Your creativity for Halloween costumes.
Your love and knowledge for all sports including football.
Your dreams for college life in “The Big House.”
Your appetite for Philly Cheesesteaks, pizza, wings and The Sopranos.
Your sense of humor and love for practical jokes.
Your back aches and muscular strains from workouts.
Your chilling out time watching TV or floating in the pool.
Your love for a deep tissue massage.
Your humility to speak from your heart and not about your accomplishments.
And it was your Dad who – sat with you during chemo, carried you when you no longer had the strength, spent endlessly long days and nights with you in the hospital, tirelessly massaged your feet, and deeply cared for you when his own heart was breaking. And then on January 29th, 2005 he too had to face our hardest challenge and “give you back.”
What’s true even now is that your Dad “never let the urgent get in the way of the important” — a beautiful way to live.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss
A few days ago, I called one of the people who mattered to Jodi – her friend Katie. We talked about my new project, LetterstoJodi.com and my passion to collaborate with those who knew Jodi – as a way to help us discover life’s jewels along our way.
Katie shared a special moment with me – as she quoted Jodi’s instructions to her in the form of those Seuss words.
To those who knew Jodi, cancer did not change her essence, instead she now had another chance to lead, love, and live fully. She was able to look at the people closest in her life and tell them what she felt and who she was becoming.
And for us who feel this loss deeply in our heart and soul, we have been changed – and that is what really matters.
I don’t think Jodi knew how she would impact the lives of her family, friends, teachers, coaches and even casual acquaintances. As her mother, I’m fascinated in the relationship of her life’s impact on those who knew Jodi.
I have an idea, that if I am willing to spend time with a variety of people who knew Jodi maybe in the peeling of layers, her life will be revealed through ordinary moments as an individual who lives extraordinarily in the lives of others.
So for starters, I began re-reading a small stack of sympathy cards – all of which have been stored in a closet these past five years. It was in the late evening, I discovered a note written by a neighbor – our children lived quietly ordinary lives but Jodi’s death has revealed the extraordinary as they knew Jodi.
I truly believe that a person is “measured” in life not by the accomplishments they have in ordinary life but in how they handle themselves in adversity.
Jodi was a true “hero” in her leadership, optimism and determination!
She loved life and because of her enthusiasm – she was in turn loved by many – and they as we are, honored to have known her.
* “Lemonade Sale only $1 glass” — August, 1995.
* If you knew Jodi, please share how your ordinary relationship transformed to become extraordinary. Leave a comment or just email me at peg.calvario [at] gmail[.com]
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”
— John Wooden
Two of Jodi’s greatest passions include life and athletics. I can’t remember the details of her fascination with coach John Wooden. All I know for sure is that his words touched both her heart and mind. One of his most notable quotes became her signature line in The Dial. It then became her mantra and inspiration of hope.
“Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.”
** Are you inspired by someone? How have they impacted your way of thinking? I’d love to know and hope you will share by leaving a comment.
A couple of days ago, I mentioned to your brother that I’d like to interview people for my blog, Letters to Jodi. I explained my curious desire in wanting to connect with a variety of people – friends, family and especially those whom I may not know personally but you had touched their heart.
Continuing our conversation, I asked him, “What does Jodi mean to you?” “Love.” You taught him the real meaning of love. In the deepest essence, a love that’s experienced only between a brother and sister. He reflected on the many happier memories – all filled with laughter, joy, and fun.
I realized that he draws upon a source that lives inside of him for strength and courage – all necessary to survive life’s tragedies and life’s unfairness. What he said reassured me that your love never dies but remains vibrantly alive. Just another jewel found along the way.