For Joanne

The most difficult question in the world to answer is only 3 letters long: “Why?” Why does someone we love so much, who brings so many good things into the world, who has helped so many people, and who has so many more years to live suddenly leave us?

It is a question that haunts us. It remains a mystery without an answer. And if you are not used to living with a mystery, it can be uncomfortable, it can make us sad or angry or frustrated or depressed. But there is a unique power in any mystery if you can embrace it and allow it into your life. If you can live with the unending question “Why?”, you can then see it as a gift, a gift that never leaves you and serves as a perpetual reminder of Joanne, a way for you to always remember her.

And in remembering Joanne, we may find sadness and loss but we also have the opportunity to find joy: the joy of remembering some of the special things Joanne brought into your life & into the world, the people she helped, the way she cared for us, the way her passion for life changed us and made us more alive.

If we connect often enough to the energy, the joy, the aliveness of Joanne, each of us can create a living memorial to her by simply doing something (a word, a thought, an action) that reminds us of her. Do that and you’ll find yourself saying “That was just like Joanne” or “Joanne would have loved this.” And in that moment, when just a small piece of the goodness that Joanne brought into the world lives again through you, you may find that a smile appears on your face, as hard as that might be to believe right now, and you’ll remember that Joanne’s life was really about the spiritual connectedness we all share and not the limitations of this material world.

Will your Joanne smiles be mixed with tears from time to time? Yes, but that’s a small price to pay to keep Joanne alive in the world. Our tears simply mean that our connection to her is real, alive, and has the power to move us into the world and change it.

So in the weeks and months and years to come, don’t reject the question “Why?” when it haunts you. Remind yourself that it is just Joanne coming to visit you, invite her in, sit down, talk, and share a moment with her. And then try to bring some small piece of Joanne’s goodness back into the world. Do that, and you’ve turned the troubling question “Why?” into an unending gift, a blessing. I hope that each of us can soon say “I did something today that reminded me of Joanne. Joanne would have loved this. Thank you, Joanne.”

(From Gary Ward, Joanne’s Brother-in-law)