I was a very nervous student starting my Freshman year at college. Shy, scared and feeling quite alone until I met Joy.
She was one of my new roommates and we even happened to be studying the same major.
She was the kind of person you just "clicked" with and we immediately felt we'd known each other all our lives.
She was the opposite of me in many ways; coming from a loud, fun loving, joke loving family, and me from a quiet, serious one.
But we became fast, best friends and four years passed thus.
Four years of classes, good grades, hikes and adventures in the woods and on the lake. Dreams of the future and our husbands-to-be. Crying together when we never had a date and praying together for the families we someday hoped we'd have. Laughing together, cooking together and even get a surprise visit from the fire department when our pie boiled over.
Four years of of preparing to live and work abroad- even our practicum ended up being sent together one summer in China.
Through smiles, tears and probably even fights we became sisters for life.
We graduated- as single as nuns and began to work to pay our loans.
I met a guy and feel in love. But when it crumbled apart, she just let me cry on her shoulder and understood.
We parted ways to live our lives. I moved abroad to teach and live in my old "mother land."
She kept on studying and got her M.A. - nearly ready to fly away and begin her life overseas. Her papers in order, her country called. She'd go abroad soon to fulfill her calling.
I met and married a local man and became a permanent resident here. So far from home, and those I loved, yet Joy still wrote and kept in touch.
And then. . . one day I got the news her health had crashed and left her ruined.
She took to bed, with pains, tears, and unknown woes. A mystery illness, a disease unknown; gripped and shook her fragile frame.
Fevers, chills and piles of pills. Tests, and shots and dark, dark holes- side effects of meds so strong- my dear friend Joy was immersed in gloom.
And YET, her spirit, ever bright, a faith in God that held her tight. She lived in pain and laughed on days she should have cried.
To lookers on they'd never guess, how ill she was- except to see her tired gaze and smile that longed for better days.
And as she pined for dreams she'd dreamt, she'd every right to turn from God and burrow down in gloom untold.
Yet JOY held fast despite the days she'd rather have died. She fought in pain and suffered in silence, keeping all her grief smothered inside.
Then my friend made a choice. She chose to completely change her life.
She gave up all her little comforts- her snacks, her candy, her love of junk food.. She chose to live a new and healthy life, to feed herself with real food.
She started hard, she started fast, she left that life and jumping headlong into a new and healthy one. I watched and waited across the ocean. I clapped, I cheered in unheard applause, as I saw her begin to make lifestyle choices.
Her health improved a wee bit at last, but still she suffered way too much.
She began to see a natural doctor, who started her on some new type of treatments.
She's made much progress, she's suffered much. She's learned to cry and feel her grief. She's learned to embrace her disappointments, and to live with this evil illness.
Yet on she fights for better health. A mighty warrior of health and beauty. A daughter of her Great Creator, she's on a quest to gain her health.
Her enemy illness now has a name- she's lived her life with Lyme disease.
The fight in hot, gruesome, and hard.Her body protests and wants to quit. Yet she holds fast, her spirit bright. Despite the paint her JOY remains. My dearest friend has earned her name!
Happy Birthday JOY!
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To support my friend I am donating 50 % of the sale of this scarf to help her a bit in her fight for health. It isn't much I know, but I want her to know that she is NOT alone in this fight.