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Beautiful Jane: How My Friend's Death has Inspired me to Live More Fully

My beautiful soulful friend Jane has died. She had a heart attack at her home on a sunny Saturday morning. In her eighties, Jane was one of the most enriching women I have had the privileged pleasure to know.

I was with a group of friends recently who all knew and loved Jane. We all felt so close to her. "She made you feel like that," said one, "as if you were her best friend." Yes. She did that. Her open heart and sage wisdom that would disarm you and then out of nowhere a wicked funny one liner would slay you into a fit of laughter. Jane, an old hippie with a gentle spirit and playful mind, was so well loved.

It took several days before I had a chance to sit with grief for Jane's passing. I knew exactly where I would go to allow Grief the fullness of presence.

I kayaked the clear waters of my beloved Lake Merwin to my go-to spot and pulled out. I walked the familiar forest trail toward a wide open meadow. Beyond that was the apple grove where I would hang my hammock.

I was heartbroken the first time I was here in this grove with my hammock last year. I was navigating a crushing breakup. I have decided to call this place the Healing Grove. It is where I drink deep doses of forest medicine as the anguish of grief finds release and comfort.

I loved Jane. Her death hit me hard. I wished I had more time with her.

Instead of numbing out the difficult emotions of sadness and loss with wine or whisky which is always a temptation, I leaned in and allowed them to river through me like a clearwater creek. There is a nourishment to be discovered when grief is welcomed rather than resisted. Grief can inform my life, a reminder to Revel In This Moment for this is the time we have and tomorrow is never promised. Grief is a teacher, a healer and a guide. She will excavate from the hidden depths our secret desires and forgotten dreams if we allow her to.

Grief and loss can inspire us To Live As Full As Possible. Losing Jane so suddenly became a reminder to Not Wait in passive hope for what I want out of life.

And so, on the heels of Jane's death I opened up a dating app, something I have not done for over three years. I have decided to invest some of my focus and energy to fulfill one of my deepest desires and that is for a dedicated relationship.

I swore I would never online date again. It is daunting. I would love to meet someone the old-fashioned way through shared friends and social connections. The two most important past love relationships of my life were discovered in the sanctuary of shared community and social circles. However, at this stage of my mature life just about everyone I know are either coupled or not available for an exclusive dedicated monogamous relationship.

My daughter and her boyfriend met online. They have both encouraged me to cast the net wide. "Why limit yourself to chance meeting? Put yourself out there and see what happens," they said.

My vivacious and dating savvy friend Kirstin came over and helped me with my profile. "You've been marketing yourself too long with your art," she said after she read what I wrote. "You need to put Who You Really Are and what you want out there."

She was right. I sounded like a contrived commercial. It is not so easy to write succinctly and with flirty energy about who I am.

This is such a season of reflection. My time in Scotland woke up dormant wanderlust. I am making new travel plans. Losing beautiful Jane has pushed me into action to attract new and lasting love. Travel and Love. These are the two things that are pulsing with blood rich vitality within me.

After I learned of Jane being on life support in the hospital, I sent her a text message knowing that it was likely she would never open her eyes again. It was my goodbye...

"It has been my honor to know you in this life. I will never forget you beautiful Jane. Give Tony a hug from me. I love you for always my friend!"

I feel the winds of change gusting up around me. There is a sense of something about to shift in my world. Maybe it's just an inner shift kind of thing, and I welcome that. I welcome the lessons that Grief imparts to me. I have never been more clear minded in all my life.


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