Finding Joy in the Journey

I don’t often get too personal here.  It’s a bit of a fear of mine to open myself up to being vulnerable, so I usually stick to the basics of Home Decor and Travel, lighthearted and fun.  But an event occurred in my life yesterday that was hard.  Really hard.  I lost someone dear to me, and because she lived so openly and fearlessly, cultivating a huge online community of friends and and supporters…I felt it only appropriate to honor her here. 

Occasionally in life, we are given the opportunity to cross paths with someone who is exceptional.  Everyone we meet is unique and has an interesting story, but some…are truly extraordinary. My dear friend Jaime Jenkins is one of those people.  Jaime came into our lives about eight years ago, moving in down the street from our home in Orange County. We had a mutual friend and shared some similar hobbies and quickly became friends.  From spending time with her going to blogging events and church functions I knew she was extraordinarily silly and fun, and had a sincere love of all things colorful and celebratory.

What I didn’t know until a few years into our friendship however, was just how exceptional she truly was.  It was a few years after she moved in, just over 5 years ago now, that Jaime received what would most certainly be a devastating diagnosis to anyone…stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.  She was in her late thirties and the mother of two young children at the time. It was through this diagnosis that I (and everyone around her) began to really see Jaime for the angel among us that she truly was.  At a time in her life when she had every right to be down and hopeless, she brought hope to so many. She offered giant, rib crushing hugs to everyone in her path, served in every capacity possible that her body would allow her, and brightened every room she ever entered.  She consciously chose JOY, EVERY DAY, in EVERY circumstance.

An excerpt I love from her Instagram account:

“Every 3rd month on Saturday morning, our congregation gets the opportunity to clean our church building. It’s a wonderful opportunity to start our day off right with service, teach our children to respect the building and come together with our church community. There are also donuts, which helps because #foodismylovelanguage. Today I am grateful that I was well enough to work alongside my family and friends and that donuts are on my approved chemo diet.”

This girl loved and lived fearlessly. She made the mundane become memorable, had an insatiable joyfulness about her and enough faith to move mountains.  Her zeal for life was infectious.

Through years of horrible pain and fighting cancer like a superhero as it attacked her again and again, she rarely, if ever let it get her down and never complained.  Instead, she found the good in everything. Offering messages of gratitude on a daily basis and teaching us that there are things to be thankful for, no matter what.  Just 4 weeks ago, as the cancer spread to her spine and her brain and the prognosis became increasingly grim, Jaime, through what I can only imagine was pain stronger than I myself could bear, posted this message:

“My friends, the pain has been excruciating to the point I had to be lifted out of bed to get to the bathroom. It felt a lot like when I fractured my lower back in February and I was very discouraged because now the pain is in my upper and lower back and surgery site in front, and it didn’t feel like I would be able to control the pain to come home. You encouraged me to speak out and the dr came through for me this morning, ordering me 2 MRIs for my upper and lower back, a back brace, and upping my pain meds. Thank you for encouraging me to be bold and to keep going. I am thankful…

  1. This hospital stay has been easier on the kids and I as we are separated.
  2. David’s wonderful boss has allowed him whatever time he needs to be with us.
  3. Our friends support us without complaint.
  4. Medical insurance is something I never ever take for granted. I couldn’t do this without it.
  5. I know the plan for my life was not meant to be easy, but to turn me into something I could not be without the struggle. And I do not struggle alone. Angels on earth and in heaven, and a Savior who has felt my pain can be with me if I ask.

Cliche, but do not take this day for granted. Good health is one of the most underappreciated blessings. Climbing stairs, getting to the bathroom, swallowing without pain, breathing without thought, and snuggling my family each night are things I never take for granted. Really feel those blessings today in your life that mean the most to you. #lifeishard #lifeisbeautiful #cancer

She had unwavering faith.  Faith that God had a plan for her, and while it might not be the plan or path she would have chosen, it was His plan for her nonetheless and she would accept it willingly. Faith that her Savior was walking her path with her, sharing the load of her burden.  That unwavering faith is the only explanation I can offer for her unending positivity.

Most importantly, she loved her family fiercely.  She fought the fight with so much determination, so much grit.  Her intense desire to be here for them, with them, helped her beat the odds So. Many. Times…so many times, we all began to think she was invincible.  

She shared her journey with the world being open and honest about her treatments, and the side effects, offering a very intimate look into the life of a cancer fighter…often with a serious dose of humor.  She was a warrior in every sense of the word. I encourage you to get to know Jaime through her words and pictures. See her beaming smile, her stunning blue eyes and feel her infectious zest for life.  Read the words and thoughts of the hundreds of people leaving messages of love and gratitude, many whom have never even met her, for the way she changed their lives simply by living hers. I promise you that you will be inspired to live with more passion and kindness, gratitude and joyfulness.  You will be changed for good.

Jaime left this mortal life for Heaven yesterday morning, April 30th.  While the void left by her passing is deep and real for those of us left here that miss her terribly, I am so grateful to know that she is free of pain and that there will be a joyous reunion (and rib crushing hug) awaiting me on the other side.  

If you would like to donate to the Jenkins family, donations can be made through Venmo @team-jaimeauction .  Your support is greatly appreciated for this sweet family.


8 thoughts on “Finding Joy in the Journey”

  1. I am so sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful tribute to your friend. I’m so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that we will be with all of our loved ones again someday.

    • Thank you so much Jennifer. Aren’t we so lucky to have that knowledge? I know you have experienced a great loss recently too, and what a comfort the gospel is!

  2. I am sorry for you loss. Your friend does seem truly special. I am sure you have many memories to treasure.

  3. Oh my goodness. What an amazing tribute to one of the most amazing women to ever live. This brought tears to my eyes as I remember her hugs and great love for life. I, too, am excited for another run crushing hug when I see her again. Thank you so much for posting this!


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