[Essay Contest] - Finalist #4 - Jacqueline Lawson - Stratejoy


[Essay Contest] – Finalist #4 – Jacqueline Lawson

**This post is one of the finalists in the Stratejoy Essay Contest. Throughout the month of February, we will feature one finalist per day. On March 3rd, we’ll open the voting for the best essay. The winner will earn the $500 cash prize. Sweet, right?!


Throughout my life I’ve experienced transitions: getting married, becoming a mother, moving across the country a few times, taking on new roles in work and life. A huge transition for me came on February 10, 2012. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and we were told it would be what would take his life. In the moments after the devastating news, there were no protests or tears. We both looked at each other and accepted our unwanted and terrible fate.


In the few weeks that followed I faced another monumental transition as we sorted, tossed, gave away, and packed up the life we had built in sunny Florida and made our way to Colorado to be with family so Brian could say his goodbyes and I would have support. After battling his cancer for just 108 days he took his final breath and I was left as a widow and a single mother to our two sons.


That sounds like a lot of change in a short amount of time, doesn’t it? Disassembling your life and losing your partner in crime of nearly 20 years in less than four months is big change… tough change. But the real transition – the life-changing, colossal one – came smack dab in the middle of the most tragic months of my life.


Right after Brian was diagnosed he told me to write. He said I needed to write our story. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but it was just a secret dream, nothing I pursued, because I knew it was a silly “little girl dream” and not something I could do in real life.  But what can you tell a man who is about to face death? I said I would write and I began on that very day.


I started keeping a journal online, just to keep our loved ones up to speed on the progression of not only Brian’s cancer, but also our big life changes as we moved across the country. I wrote about his health and our past. I wrote about my fears and memories. I shared from my heart and in doing so I started to change. I was using my voice! I didn’t even really know I had one.


My voice isn’t one you hear very often and when you do, it’s probably quiet and the words sound all mixed up sometimes. But my voice on paper is honest and clear and vulnerable. As I wrote, I discovered my voice and myself. I communicated in a way that, unbeknownst to me, was helping people all over the place cope with their own losses and heartaches.


On April 28th the “big shift” happened. I decided that I needed to follow my husband’s lead and find whatever good I could in the terrible turn life had taken. My gut told me that the only way to truly get through this ordeal and come out on the other side happy and whole was to find joy in everything. So I started putting the plan together and the following day Joyful on Purpose was born. It was just a blog. Well, not just a blog. It was mine. It contained my journey, my story, and my heart. Since that day I have consciously been striving to find joy in everything.


Brian died on May 28, 2012. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster since then. Some days are really good and happiness is easy. Other days are dark and sad. But through it all I have still been able to find my joy. I’ve been able to write and share that with others. I’ve found my voice and my calling. I know what I think and feel as a person – as Jacqueline.  Through writing my story I discovered that my little girl dream is something more. It’s become the way I live as the real me.


In watching the person I loved slowly die from a horrible disease, I found the truly authentic version of myself. I’m joyful at the core. I love life and I love purposely finding good in it and in people. I adore reaching out and finding others who reach back on this journey we call living. I’ve grown very comfortable in my own skin and carving out what feels right for me. I’m not afraid to be alone and navigate what used to terrify me. I’m still very quiet and reserved, but inside I’m bubbling over with joy and I’m also using my gift to share that with others. I’ve helped people cope with death, divorce, breakups, and other losses. It feels like the most natural thing in the world and I don’t know when or if I would have discovered what I feel is my calling had it not been for my husband’s disease and death. As my heart broke open while watching him fade away, it released little buds of joy that are taking root, spreading, and blossoming into a gorgeous new… me!

Photo Credit: [via].


Jacqueline_LawsonJacqueline is a writer, do-gooder, and spreader of joy! She is a mom of two grown sons and shared almost 20 years with her husband before he passed away from cancer. Through that journey she has shown that we can strive for joy in every little thing. Jacqueline has been described as a grounded mystic with a glowing heart and good soul. She is the founder of Joyful on Purpose and =Joy Coaching, where she is following her passion to help others move through grief and find their joy along the way.


**This post is one of the finalists in the Stratejoy Essay Contest. Throughout the month of February, we will feature one finalist per day. On March 3rd, we’ll open the voting for the best essay. The winner will earn the $500 cash prize. Sweet, right?!

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