Yesterday I chose to go to two Bikram Yoga classes, back to back. Why? Because I’m on a mission to live my life to the fullest, and I’ve seen what happens when people make choices that keep them from living their dreams.
In 1995 I met a wonderful woman by the name of Sharon. We connected almost immediately, and, within a short time, I became the daughter she never had. We laughed together. We cried together. She had a heart of gold and a zest for life, yet, in so many ways, she never really lived.
She wasn’t just overweight; she was “morbidly obese” to the point where she always had to call ahead to restaurants to make sure they had chairs without arms. When it came time for her to buy a new car, the #1 factor in find the right vehicle? It had to be one she could fit in. She could barely walk a block and climbing up a set of stairs became a chore that would leave her gasping for breath as though she’d just run a mile. And flying? Forget that. Unless her boyfriend Don (a super-skinny guy) would fly with her, so then she could have half his seat.
I don’t mean to imply that she didn’t have fun. Before she got sick we’d go on carriage rides at Christmas time and it would take so little for us to just fall apart laughing hysterically.
And yoga. Sharon introduced me to yoga. She practiced a gentle yoga at a local studio, and we’d often go to classes together. One day, when I was going through a particularly rough time she surprised me by placing a stuffed iguana on my mat. I still have that iguana, and whenever I look at it, I smile and know Sharon is with me in spirit.
In 2004 they found lump in her breast. It turned out to be cancer, but discovering that was not an easy process. For people who weigh more than 300 pounds (and she did) diagnosing diseases becomes much more cumbersome as most medical diagnostic devices come with 300 pound weight limits, so something as simple as a biopsy required surgery for Sharon.
For 4 years she was one of the lucky ones. She entered remission. But even then she never cared enough to even try to make her life what she wanted it to be. That may sound harsh, but I was with her. I listened to her dream of traveling, walking with her dog, doing normal activities, but they stayed dreams. She couldn’t break the addictive cycle of needing the creature comfort of foods. In spite of years of therapy she couldn’t push past the pain.
In 2008, she fell and broke her hip, or so we thought. She spent three months in the hospital with a staph infection (from the hip surgery) before they diagnosed the “real” problem: bone cancer. It wasn’t the doctors’ fault it took so long: I witnessed them doing their best. I hope Sharon forgives me for saying this, but, at that time, she weighed 500 pounds and that just made her more difficult to diagnose and treat.
She died a year later, on November 4 of 2009. In the year that led to her death, she gave up when she didn’t have to. She had people who loved her and money to do things she always wanted to do, but, for whatever reason, she couldn’t push through the mental walls.
Knowing her changed my world, brought me love and laughter when I needed it. But that last year of her life I couldn’t spend that much time with her because she gave up on life long before it gave up on her, and the negative energy consumed her, and I could no longer allow it to consume me.
I remember delivering her eulogy, wishing she’d have made different choices so I could still have her with me, laughing and crying.
This is why I work so hard at improving my world, so someone doesn’t have to give my eulogy, thinking that they wished I’d cared enough to better my life. I do care. I’m on a mission. To show the world and to show myself that all things are possible if only you/I believe they can be…………………..
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