It was a few years ago, we had just finished a training walk for the Susan G Komen 3 Day, the walk leader passed out stickers of owls (yes, owls). She asked us to keep one of the walkers in mind. The walker she referred to I did not know but I learned she was battling breast cancer (again), and she liked owls.
As I left that training walk I stuck the owl sticker on one of the air vents in my Jeep. Every now and then I would look at it and think of this person I didn’t know, fighting a fight I had been fortunate not to fight (at this point in my life).
The summer went on and I still didn’t meet this mystery person but I continued to look at the owl sticker in my car and think about this person out there in the world fighting breast cancer.
When the 3 Day rolled around we all loaded in the bus and headed toward opening ceremonies. Through all the chatter in the bus I overheard something that made me realize the “owl woman” was on the bus. I asked the woman I suspected and learned I was right. I told her about the owl sticker and that I still had it in my car. We talked, we laughed, we hit it off.
Walking 60 miles in 3 days is a huge challenge. I learned that JoAnne had just finished chemo and would be walking the 60 miles. I was impressed by her determination and courage.
(L to R) Anastasia, me and Stan, JoAnne
She liked the sock monkey (Stan) I was carrying during the walk.
After the walk we played Words With Friends, we chatted occasionally on Facebook and at Christmas she sent me a new sock monkey…but we didn’t have time to really become friends. What I knew of Joanne I admired. She fought to the end, she had strength and a beautiful inner spirit that I was only able to get a short glimpse at.
I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason and I believe Joanne came into my life to remind me to fight gracefully, take care of the vessel I have been given and to laugh.
I still have the owl sticker in my car and Stan (my monkey) and Cassidy (the monkey JoAnne gave me) ride along in my jeep everyday.
Though it makes me sad that I did not get an opportunity to know her better, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know the lady behind the owl.