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Friday, July 26, 2013

Everyone Should Know a Joel...

When I was younger, like any Type A, list-making 12 year old, I created a mental list of things that I wanted my life to be. (Truth...I still add to it!!)  I remember thinking that I wanted to have many meaningful relationships with different kinds of people.  Being a socially inept introvert doesn't exactly make achieving this goal easy, but even with this personality flaw, I have been very lucky.  You find the people you are meant to find...when you need to find them. 

I have written about Joel many times...he was camper I met my first year volunteering at Camp Fantastic...and knowing him changed my life.  He was wise.  He was enlightened.  He was okay with whatever his cancer journey was going to bring him.  He was funny.  He had great taste in music.  He adored his older brother.  He made me a sign to hang in my office.  He asked me to dance.  He was Joel West Baillie.  He is one of too many reasons I work hard at work.  He is my hero.

Meeting My Hero's Parents and Niece
In the magical way the world (and internet) works...even though Joel is out and about in the universe...I am lucky in that I have been able to connect with his family over the years.  When Joel's brother Nate and his wife (Karen) were in town a few years ago on New Years...we decided to finally meet in person.  It was so much fun to talk about Joel...we became fast friends. 

This past Spring...Nate and Karen had a baby girl...Joelene.  A perfect namesake...a perfect everything.  I felt really special to receive an invite to her baptism.  I felt even more special in being able to meet Joel's Mom and addition to Joelene (of course).  I had corresponded with his Mom via email after she had read several of my past journal entries about Joel a few years ago.  She thanked me again for writing them.  After a long hug, we talked about all kinds of things.  We reminisced about his amazing memorial.  We talked about a camp family weekend that we had all attended.  She was funny and wise...just like Joel.  I talked about my work.  I talked about my writing.  She was so encouraging.  So positive.  So free.  

For a writer, there is nothing more powerful then when someone thanks you for your words.  For me, just knowing that someone reads my words is enough.  I remember at Joel's memorial there was an entire table dedicated to all of the stories he had written.  One in particular that stands out in my mind was an essay...about how he envisioned his life down the road.  At the time, I remember thinking how lucky I was to have so much "down the road" time.  I also remember wondering if I was living it the best way that I could.  I know this much, I'm definitely living my "down the road" time much better now than I was then.

Past Musings on Joel

He would have been sixteen - -

The Joel sign moves again - -

Remembering Joel - -

On being centered - -

First Year at Camp Pictures (2002) - -

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