This one is personal...
Many of you know that almost four years ago, I was well established in an accounting career but always had a desire to teach yoga. So, when I was thinking about going through yoga teacher training, I reached out to friends on Facebook for advice. I wanted to know if my friends would tell me I was crazy for doing something like that at 40. And of course, since my friends are amazing, they encouraged me to follow my heart. But one friend in particular, Josh, encouraged me in a way that I will never forget. He told me that his mom was teaching yoga in her seventies and was also training yoga teachers. That was the final push I needed to register for the training.
Before the training started, I took classes with all three of my teacher trainers so I could get to know their teaching styles. And I really loved one of the women, Randy, who was probably in her seventies and packed classes on a regular basis at a popular studio. She radiated such warmth and kindness and I always felt at ease in her class. She had people of all ages in her class, which to me is a testament to her gift to teach.
Several weeks before training started, I was scrolling through Facebook during the holidays and was shocked when I saw a picture of Josh and Randy together. I messaged Josh and asked how he knew Randy and he responded that she was his mother! I knew Josh from college in Texas, he was living in Hawaii at the time, and I met his mom in California. And they did not have the same last name. So, I would have never connected the dots that they were related. If I ever needed a sign to know I was in the right place, that was it!
I met Josh my sophomore year of college. He was a year younger than me and we ended up with an amazing mutual group of friends throughout our time in college. But for some reason, Josh and I always had a special connection, even among our group of friends. He was one of the most genuine, caring, and subtly charismatic people I have ever met. He was not the kind of person that would walk into a room and command it. Rather, he had a way of connecting with people individually that made them feel like they were the most special person in the world. He was extremely humble and he had no idea how amazing he was.
Fast forward to three weeks ago. I saw on Facebook that Josh had been in a horrible surfing accident in Hawaii. I had a horrible feeling in my gut. Even though I had not seen Josh in 20 years, I knew things weren't right. I had a sinking feeling and couldn't stop crying. Two hours after learning about the accident, I learned that Josh's family and doctors had decided to take him off life support, which must have been a terrible decision to have to make. I was outside at a park, getting ready to take a yoga class. I moved through that class in a complete fog, fighting back the tears. But I kept focusing on how Josh would have loved the beauty of that park.
And then I couldn't stop crying for several days. How could someone so kind and loving die so young? Especially for him to die in a surfing accident after he spent his adult life as a lifeguard and saved so many lives. It was so confusing and I couldn't make sense of it. I reached out to my college friends, most of whom live all over the country, and I unfortunately don't see anymore. Everyone was devastated, and not just because he was so young and it was unexpected. His light was so bright that the world got visibly dimmer and our hearts were hurting.
My college friends and I all started reading tributes on Josh's Facebook page. And I was simply blown away by the way people spoke about him. He really came into his own. He was living a life he wanted, on his own terms. He was a lifeguard in Hawaii and played drums for various bands. He was a practitioner of yoga and believed deeply in it. He was well respected and loved in his community and continued to make people feel loved and special. And although he wasn't following the path that our world expects, he was wildly successful in his work, and most of all happy.
I find great comfort in that. He found something that most people spend a lifetime trying to find. And I know that he would be very proud of me for following my dreams. When we met twenty years ago, we were both old souls and I love to see that we both found ways to follow our hearts and help people that neither of us could have imagined at the time. His beautiful, kind smile will remain imprinted on my heart and I hope that in some small way I can make people feel as amazing as he did. He impacted so many people in his short time on this earth and I know the world is a better place because of it. He will be greatly missed. I will think of him often. And most of all, I will keep his memory alive.