After being somewhat confined and limited in my abilities to freely do what I may have done otherwise if I were not busy loving and caring for my family, while one of our team mates was fighting cancer, I was excited and eager to get back to a “normal” life. 

Don’t ask me what “normal” means, because I haven’t experienced that word personally for over six years.   I recall Riley first getting cancer … the fear and loss of control as I dropped everything to be there for him.  

My Interior Design business, which was thriving, became not important.  (that is difficult for me to say… anyone who has put in the effort to open a business, with all that entails, grow and expand it, and keep it stable, knows how much heart and soul goes into that) 

My job as a Group Fitness Manager and Instructor were all of a sudden not important. (again… ask anyone who has based their self worth on what they look like all their life, who has rigidly reached 7% body fat, won figure competitions, and maintained 15% body fat as the “norm”… letting this go is a HUGE conflict)

In the later stages, after opening a second business, “Courage To BE Yoga”, I had to make a choice to temporarily close those doors and put all workshops on hold.  I  also arranged temporarily for  other instructors to teach my remaining group fitness classes.

I used to be a “neat freak”.  I had people tease me and friends lock me out of my pantry to mess it up just to torment me and entertain themselves… (I’m still butt hurt about that Jamee and Mike… haha), my house was spotless, every cupboard and drawer organized and there was nothing in sight that needed to go to the dump or DI.   

Somehow our yard always appeared well kept, we ate fresh, healthy, home-cooked meals, we planned and executed parties and vacations, I loved baking bread, bottling fruits and vegetables, and frequently visiting friends.  All of this stuff that defined “normal” for me came to a screeching halt when Paul and I sat in the special meeting room at Primary Children’s Hospital and heard the words, “your child has cancer, your life will never be the same”.  

Thankfully, a few days before the cancer was confirmed through biopsy, I was alone in my car when I had a distinct impression that God was sitting with me when He said, “ Jackie, this is where you’ll learn of me, pay attention”.  So for the past six years, I’ve done my very best to pay attention.  I have consistently looked for the lesson in each circumstance.  I have looked for Gods hand, for the miracle, and have learned to trust that everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to for Divine purpose.  

It’s been 10 weeks since Riley went home to the loving arms of our Lord and Savior.  Since that time I have repeatedly tried to find my new “normal”.  It seems like each time I build up a bit of momentum something stops me dead in my tracks. As if grief, sorrow, sadness and pain aren’t enough, the first thing I got was a cold.  Again, I subbed out classes and canceled workshops.  I assumed my body was telling me something and I surrendered.

A few weeks later after successfully hitting the gym five days in a row, I hurt my back. Once more, I found myself in bed, listening to my body and trusting my belief that everything happens for a reason.  I surrendered.

Along with the rest of the world, the Corona Virus dictated I stay home, I was shaken by the earthquake and I am once again sick.   We all know that person who never gets sick…. Well I’m that person… I VERY SELDOM GET SICK….. so what the crap is going on?

As I was driving south on Bangerter earlier this week I was crying, talking to Riley, and expressing to him how much I miss him and wish he were here to help me feel safe.  He has always been a safe place for me and a protector in our home.  I had a distinct feeling come over me that I cant deny… Riley’s message to me was….. “Mom, I’m right here, I was called home for this very time and I can do far more good for you from here than I could do there.  This is part of my work.  I could have stayed longer in my physical body, I showed you that by outliving every prediction the doctors gave us, but I had to be here before this virus hit and the earthquake happened.  There is a lot more going on than anyone realizes. Please don’t be scared.  I am right here watching out for you and our family and many others.” 

All week I have pondered… Are there any coincidences?  Why was I prepared for this?  Why did Riley get cancer?  Why did he survive the first year of treatment when many don’t?  Why did the cancer not come back to his lungs sooner?  Why did he live longer than what the doctors expected but then go home right before shit hit the fan?  At first I was complaining to God… I was thinking things like…”God, I could really use a break from these traumatic events in my life.  Could I please have a breather and get my feet back under me?” But then it dawned on me that perhaps Riley getting cancer and going home early was part of Gods plan all along.  Maybe Riley outliving all odds to give us more time with him and to give him time to turn his heart to God was a gift from God.  Maybe the fact that Riley went home only weeks before the world went crazy was a sign of the importance of Riley’s mission and a witness to me that he is who I’ve always thought him to be.  A leader who can organize, delegate and communicate incredibly well.  

Part of my mantra or prayer as I close each of my yoga practices was adopted by one of my favorite teachers, Maria Johnson.  She said a few times at the close of practice…. May we take the merits of this practice with us as we dispel fear and replace it with love…. And I added, as we practice spreading peace within and on the earth.

We can paralyze ourselves with fear or we can use our breath as intended…. Each inhalation full of gratitude and each exhale a symbol of surrender, letting go.  We cant change the past.  We cannot control everything about the future, but we CAN decide what each moment will be…. In that very moment.  

I have a good friend who says often…. “Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is”.  I believe this is true.  Maybe what is currently happening is a gift…. It is certainly a teacher.  When was the last time you spend entire days and weeks with your family? Without outside sources to entertain?  When was the last time you looked around and wondered what your hobbies and interests were and started to explore them?  Sometimes it is the most difficult experiences in life that teach us the most valuable lessons.   

Enjoy your freedom my friends.  It is a gift and is not a coincidence.