Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CELEBRATE JILLY

This is a difficult post.

The first - and most obvious - reason being that I have to express in writing that Jill - my wife, my best friend, Rory's mommy - passed away quietly in her home on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 12.

The second difficulty here is striking the right tone.  Though she rarely gave herself the credit, Jill was gifted in her ability to clearly communicate what was always an emotionally charged topic.  This was her point of control.  She controlled the message.  She found the funny, shared it, and put on the serious sombrero when she felt the time called for it.  And you stayed engaged and supportive throughout our tumultuous journey.

The third - and potentially most difficult of the difficulties in writing this post - is expressing the impact Jilly had on me and countless others w/o sounding cliche.  And while cliches are cliches b/c they are most often true, they also have a tendency to be glossed over when read.  Jill's life is not meant to be glossed over.  It was too precious, too meaningful.  And while I can truly only speak from my personal experience as her student, boyfriend, fiancee, husband, and best friend, I've read and heard innumerable ways she has injected her brand of positivity into your lives.  Cliches be damned, here's a touch, a taste of Jill's beauty...
  • Jill's smile lit up a room.  (And if you ask me, it still does.)
  • Despite her ongoing joke that "it's all about me," Jill was as selfless as they come.  No matter her personal challenges, her first thoughts and actions were always for others.  (I recall several occasions when she'd be wiped out sideways from a treatment, opening her eyes, and letting me know we need to get that special birthday gift for so-and-so.)
  • So comfortable in her own skin, she made others feel at ease w/ her and w/ themselves, making for a very relaxed, inviting environment to build a relationship.  (It's what wooed me.)
  • As she'd be the first to tell you, Jill was funny.  (I can't tell you how many times I got soaked with water by the sink sprayer on April Fool's Day.  Pure joy for Ro and Mommy.)
  • Above all else, Jill was positive.  No matter the circumstance, if the hill got steeper, her positivity meter climbed to meet the challenge.  And here's something personal.  Never once - not one time - while on this 'roller coaster ride' did Jilly ever ask 'why me?'  She held the cards dealt her way and tried to play the best - longest - hand she could possibly play.  And she did it w/ a freaking smile.  
Jill and I made the decision to re-up our wedding vows before she passed.  In true Jilly form, she rallied.  She was not well, but the girl put on her party hat and turned it up.  Rory conducted the ceremony and kindly shared the spotlight w/ us, allowing each of us to speak from the heart.  Despite telling Jill I had nothing planned, I had been drafting a rough outline to guide me thru what was sure to be emotional vows.  Sure enough, when the time came, I missed a large chunk of my vows to Jill.  This post feels like a good place to share these vows/notes in their entirety.  It's my own blend of humor and sincerity.  They're not perfect, nor comprehensive.  But they're all heart.  

Jilly loved life.  I love her.

First & foremost, I’d like to thank the Academy for this incredible honor…

Wait...wrong speech...

I’ve actually given this a lot of thought...how we’d be up here in front of family and friends...again…

And to be honest, there isn’t a lot that hasn’t already been said between us.  B/c we’ve been thru so much over the last 10+ years - especially the last three,  we haven’t shied from expressing our feelings to one another.  

So I can certainly talk about how…

-you serve as my life compass, pointing me in the right direction w/ your wisdom.
-I’ve always admired how comfortable you are in your own skin.
-you are the most thoughtful, considerate, and loving mother to Rory.
-you get me.  You see my eccentricities and somehow appear to love me more b/c of them.
-you always always always think about others before yourself.
-you are the wind beneath my wings.  Wait, how’d that get in here?
-you are - quite simply & without question - the strongest person I know.
-you’ve made me a happy person.
But you know all of these things already.  So why dwell on them?
Thank you for being in my life, being my wife, and making this beautiful person w/ me.

I am genuinely forever grateful to be with you.  Each and every day I acknowledge this...mainly to myself.

We’ve been through a lot together over these last 10+ years.  I want more...a lot more.  And I’ll do all that I can to make that happen for the three of us.  

‘I won’t give up on us.’


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