I met the magnificent Jillian Ayer through an online writing course via Tammy Strobel from Rowdy Kittens (also magnificent, I might add). As a Certified Oncology Massage Therapist, Jillian’s work is very close to my heart. Her compassion and empathy shine through her writing. When she shared this piece on our course’s Facebook page this morning I became convinced she had to share it on the blog. She graciously accepted and is allowing me to publish it here first! Thank you Jillian. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Enjoy and go check out Jillian’s website and show her some love!
If there is one thing that I know for sure it is this, when you look into the eyes of someone that is dying or even some one that has been invited to death’s edge; they want to know that the sound of their voice has been heard, that the essence of their life’s story has impacted you.
But then don’t we all?
Each life tells a story, each moment the potential to define the story.
What story is your life telling?
I have always been a truth seeker, a soul gardener and a member of the cheering section that sees and knows the inherent good in all of us. I have also loved being in service to others for as far back as I can remember (Yes, Mrs. McCarthy that was 5 year old me that rang your doorbell and left a May basket on your doorstep. I assumed after the death of your husband, Spring was not the same for you. I imagined that perhaps you were lonely in that big house at the top of my street and I wanted you to have a moment of joy).
I believe that when we can see the consistent themes that run through our lives we know where our superpowers lie, why we are here and how to make the essence of our story impact-ful. My theme has been to care for the human spirit and cancer has been my invitation to let my voice be heard.
Working with cancer patients has taught me that at the end of the day it is the currency we bring to one another and not money that matters most. My pockets may be empty but my heart is always full. I try to live, watching for ways that I can serve those in my life with and without cancer. Those that may have forgotten how important their story is and how it impacted me.
My hairdresser is a no nonsense mother bear. Her wisdom has been won through many arm wrestles with life, some she has won and some she has lost. She has seen the bad and she has known God, He lights her way.
At a time when some people her age are retiring she is raising her 3 year old grand daughter and from what I can tell having regular coffee dates with God to get the strength and faith to make it all work. She owns and runs the hair salon that I go to. She has formed a community there and is the consummate mayor. She checks her issues at the door on most days except for one day, the day she told me her story and about her granddaughter. I listened.
The next time I got my hair cut she and I got into a lively conversation about the Disney Princesses. She was trying to learn about them on the fly so she could speak the language her granddaughter was learning. As I walked away from our conversation to get into my car to go home, I thought about my own daughter and her love for all the Disney Princesses when she was 3 years old. The memories I held of my daughter dressing up as one of the princesses flashing back, the Halloween I went as Belle and she as Cinderella.
What better way to let my hairdresser know that her voice had been heard; that the essence of her story had impacted me, than to give her a memory with her granddaughter?
I bought tickets for her and her granddaughter to see the Disney play the Little Mermaid. I gave her a moment in time with her granddaughter, a memory, as a way to honor who she is and the sacred work that she is doing by raising her. Reportedly her granddaughter was mesmerized by the show, my hairdresser cried.
She told me she was touched that someone would do that for her, recognize her in that way and help her build a memory.
But isn’t that what we all want, to be honored for what we do?
We often think that the heroes in our culture are the people that fill stadiums with their singing voices or basketball courts with their athletic abilities but for me the heroes look different. The heroes for me are the quiet, humble people that get up each day to do the work that life has asked of them whether it be caring for a granddaughter or healing from cancer with faith.
Who are the heroes in your life and how do you honor them?