Today has been all about a very dear friend of mine that I will never forget. Someone that never had much but was happy and content with everything she had. She wasn't self-conscious, vain, or envious. She was brutally honest, courageous, and magnanimous. Was never to busy to talk, had great shoulders to cry on, and a smile that lit up the room. She always saw the good in people, never found fault, never stayed down for long and always had a kind smile, warm heart for anyone that came into her life. She was a very dynamic force and one that couldn't be contained in one body. Maybe that is the reason why God took her so young!
Her memorial service was today and so many people got up and spoke her praises. She had a personality that was larger than life. She wanted to change the world and strove to do so with her volunteering with the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau. All she ever wanted was to change one persons life, to reach one person with her story. But she impacted each and everyone of us that knew her. Mary was the embodiment of warmth, sun, caring, love and sharing.
She traveled all over telling her story over and over again to groups and individuals alike. She didn't care what others thought, she only cared about what she was fighting for. She dreamed of a world where there was no such thing as HIV or AIDS and fought towards that end. She would make you laugh, cry and even shake your head in disbelieve because she was bold and courageous. Whatever she felt she said.
Souls are attracted by vibration and not by looks, and Mary taught me that. It didn't matter to her what you looked like, or how you dressed we were all the same to her. When two souls resonate together they recognize each other and form a bond of friendship and love. I still remember how she flirted with everyone and didn't care what they thought about it. She lived in the moment and nothing could take that love of life away from her.
I was fortunate to live close to Mary. I got to see her a lot, we also talked a lot on the phone and she helped me through some very difficult times in my life. She had a light inside of her that drew people close, her personality was such that once you were in her orbit you were her friend. That light inside of her could drive away the darkness and for a brief moment when she was around you knew that anything was possible.
Yet, in the end God chose to take her from this earth and bring her home. I have mixed emotions about that. See, I depended on her guidance and her words of encouragement when my life got into some tough spots. I don't have anyone like that anymore, she was it. I am going to miss our talks and how she boosted me up and never tore me down.
So what would I like to say to Mary? Well, I would tell her thanks for taking the time to teach me how to embrace my own Awesomeness and reminding me that everything we do, is building us towards something else. She saw ahead of her that there were endless possibilities and opportunities to share her testimony and her story. When I say that Mary was larger than life, I mean exactly what I have said. She was bigger than life, she radiated warmth and acceptance with the greatest of ease and she gave great big bear hugs. She wasn't afraid to touch you, nor tell you about yourself if you were in the wrong. She lived in the moment and by doing so she achieved what most of us envied. An openness to talk, a freedom to express exactly what she needed to when she needed too. She was comfortable with herself, her situation, her looks, and everything that made her up. I admired her honest, conviction and courage and I hope that just a little of each of those has rubbed off on me.
She gave hope where there was fear, she gave love unconditionally and expected nothing in return. Though she may be gone, I don't think it will ever be possible to forget her. She had a great impact on so many of our lives. For that alone I know she will live on forever in each and everyone of us.
Thank you for keeping her family and friends in your prayers. What more can I say, Mary saw a world in which change was possible and she struggled to help bring it about. I can't tell you how grateful I am that she chose me to be a part of her family. She helped and loved beyond any situation. She was so full of light and life that it was nearly blinding to look at her at times. She knew what she wanted and set about trying to get it. A spirit of a lion and the heart of a lamb.
I am going to miss you so much, but I know now that she is with me everywhere and I remember the words she told me when my partner left me and did all those things to hurt me. "You deserve better than that Bryan, you deserve to be happy". Now, I know that the secret to happiness is found only with ourselves and no where else. Thank you for reminding me of that. I am jealous or even envious of her, see it was so easy for her to talk, to get her story out. She wasn't afraid, because there is no reason to fear the truth. Again, thank you for the lesson Mary!
Oh yes, I have a voice and I write in that voice, but speaking I tremble on the inside. She told me over and over again, to just be yourself and it will all work out. Guess what she was right and I am still here today. She didn't have transportation much of the time I knew her, but it didn't limit her much. She still made it to Group and Positive Champions meetings. I don't think I have ever seen her discouraged for more than a minute. She never gave up on anyone! She always saw their goodness and she brought that out in all of those around her.
When I say bigger than life that was Mary. Yes it was and I think that she burned so brightly to everyone around her that her poor body just couldn't handle all of it. When I tell you that she loved, she did! She loved Gay Men! She Loved Children! She Loved to talk! She loved to hug everyone! So today was Mary's day and will remain for me till tomorrow. Today was a day that was sad, somber, yet funny and exciting as well. I have a heavy heart because of the loss of my friend but a big ole smile on my face as I sit here and remember.
You maybe wondering why I am telling you all about my friend and her life and what she meant to me. So, let me tell you that there are lesson here that you can learn from. Something each and everyone of us can use in our daily lives. You may not believe me, and I am not sure that I do yet myself, but I think as all of us gathered today to remember our dear friend something magical and wonderful happened. We were reminded that life is fleeting, and that we need to cherish those around us. We need to surround ourselves with family of our own choosing, be inclusive of everyone, fear nothing, accept everything, live in the moment, cherish the life you have and what you got. Take back your power, live for yourself and throw your hands and heads up in the air, don't care what others think of you. Just do you and everything else will fall in place.
What can you learn from Mary? Everything there is to know about life and living. Learn something new everyday, share it with those you love and those you don't know. Live in the moment, experience everything with baby fresh eyes, those eyes of wonder that still see the magic in the world. Keep those you resonate with close to you, because like souls attract like souls. Stay positive, focused and tell your story to anyone who will listen. Everyone has a story to tell and you never know where a casual conversation might lead you. Seek the goodness in others, freely give kindness to those you love and give love to those that love you. Speak your mind and your heart will follow, don't filter out anything. Someone described Mary today as having the gift of Transparency and I think that is a place where we should all strive to be. You never had to guess what Mary was thinking or feeling you could see it and feel it. That is what is meant by being transparent. We are all given a voice and we must learn how to use it. Your story is unique just as was mine and Mary's but there might be someone out there that needs to hear it. You may save someones life, or your words might heal their hurting soul. Your story could change 1 persons life and like Mary said "If I can reach or help or change one person than I have accomplished my task". Mary changed a lot of lives, so many hearts, and will live on with each of us who knew her.
But, now my friends as you read what I am writing about her, she will also live in you. You may not have met her, you may never have seen her. But you know her spirit, her heart, and the magical way she changed the lives of each and everyone of us that came in contact with her. Please take away from this entry if nothing else, one person can inspire change in the world. Yes, you can. All it takes is you to find your voice, tell your story, and live your life like Mary lived hers. Trust me.
As always my hopes and dreams are with you!