This is how I remember Jamie when I first met her. Straight out of college, full of life, and dating a guy named Aaron. I liked her from the moment I met her. Her smile was beautiful and sincere. She loved life and brought joy to those around her.
We worked together for several years. I wouldn't say that we were super close during that time, but we had a lot of fun together. She would come to me and ask for professional advice, as well as situations with her personal life. We developed a friendship that didn't require that we spend tons of time together outside of work, or talk to each other all the time. We just had one of those simple friendships where we knew that we cared about each other and could pick up the phone at any time.
We later moved back to Chicago from Kansas City, and I didn't see her for several years. We would exchange emails now and then, but it wasn't until she was pregnant with her daughter, and I was pregnant with my second son, that we started getting back in touch more often. Our due dates were within days of each other. That is always a great time to reconnect with someone and exchange pregnancy stories. I couldn't believe it when she told me that she was planning to name her daughter Kayden. We had just recently decided that we were going to name our son Kaden. I was shocked, as at the time, it was a pretty uncommon name (obviously, that's not the case anymore!) My Kaden ended up being born one day after her Kayden. It was a great way for us to continue to keep in touch and exchange Kayden stories!
Less than a year later, Jamie's world changed forever. She found a lump on her breast. Her doctors told her it was nothing. She was 30 years old and healthy, with a baby at home. Jamie had a feeling they were wrong and unfortunately, they were. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were all shocked.
Jamie's story captivated us all. Through everything she was going through, she blogged and continued to show unbelievable hope and grace. She helped us see the good things in life, even when we couldn't comprehend the difficulties she was going through. Over the next four and a half years, her cancer would go into remission, and then return, two more times before she got the news that it was metastatic in early 2010.
This picture was taken the same weekend that I got to see her and Kayden, in the spring of 2010. It was shortly after her latest diagnosis that the cancer was spreading faster than the chemo could keep up with. She looked fantastic, and you would never have known that her time on this earth was so limited. She was as beautiful as ever, grateful, and so full of life. I was so glad to be able to spend even a short amount of time with her and her adorable Kayden.
She was so thankful for every day that she got to wake up. I continually learned lessons from her about loving life and appreciating the simple things. Oh, and remember that guy named Aaron? He is her unbelievably amazing husband. Watching his support and love for her during this entire time was something that touched me very deeply. They treasured every moment they had together as a family. They crossed things off her bucket list. They lived every day as if it were going to be her last. I was continually amazed at the strength, endurance and resilience they showed.
In March of this year, Jamie went home to be with Jesus. Her earthly suffering was now over. Even though it's been a few months, typing those words still does not seem real. It's hard for us to comprehend how someone so young with so much life could be taken from us so soon. But during her short time, she touched so many lives. Many of them did not know her personally, and had been following her journey through friends of friends and praying for her. She had an unbelievable impact during her short life on this earth.
This is how I will forever remember Jamie. With a stunning smile, love that spilled out of her, and as an amazing Mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. She taught me to slow down and treasure the little things in life.
Thank you, Jamie. For being my friend, and teaching me so many incredible lessons. You were a treasure and truly loved. You inspired countless numbers of people with your unbelievable honesty and grace. Among many of the things that you helped me realize, the power of blogging was a big one for me. You took the time to share your story. The good, the bad, and everything in between. In doing so, people's lives were changed. That is inspiring!
This Sunday, I have the privilege of walking in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in Kansas City. While I will be with thousands of other people, it will be an incredible honor to walk with Team Jamie, consisting of her family, friends and people who loved her. I know it will be an amazing experience, and one that she will be smiling down on as we walk in her honor.
If you'd like to read more about Jamie's incredible journey, you can read her blog, Loving Pink. This post was one of my favorites: A Time to Believe.
If you'd like to donate to Team Jamie to support breast cancer research, you can visit my race page at Team Jamie.