My Friend Ellen

 

Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you just don't care.
Dance like no one is watching
.


The above quote is scrawled on the inside cover of the book titled Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, given to me by my friend Ellen. It was her well worn personal copy.

Hello sweet friends,
Today, I'd like to tell you the story of my friend Ellen. She ascended to her true angel self many years ago. Still, she nudges me to care for myself. Some days, I can see her bright smile. When I am sad, I can always feel her near. She was an angel on earth as well. At a time in my life, when I was struggling, she gave me her own copy of the codependency daily reader. (which I highly recommend) I read it as part of my daily wellness practice.

This book is a part of her, my treasure. The page corners are bent. Ellen highlighted or underlined most pages. Her "Don't Quit" inspirational bookmark, keeps my place. In every blank space there are notes, musings and even some phone numbers of friends. Her name, address and phone are written on the title page. I wish I could call and talk to her. I wish I could drive out to Trucksville and sit with her on the glider, in her back yard. I miss her so yet, she speaks to me with each day's message. She makes sure I have exactly what I need to face the day.

Ellen struggled in her too short life. She wrestled with addiction, recovery, shame, guilt and poverty. Through those struggles, she learned to say no, to love herself, and to feel worthy.  She suffered physically with diabetes, a heart condition, COPD and PTSD. Despite all these challenges, she knew how to live, love and give. She came out of the box. She learned she could wear what she wanted and she wasn't afraid of color. She learned to be exactly who she was without excuses. She learned to try new things without fear. She was a courageous and caring person. She lived the "Dance" quote. I don't think I ever really appreciated that quote. I read it so many times, I dismissed it. Then, last week the cover fell open and her memory came flooding in.

Ellen loved to cook and fed me and my dog, Mr. Jake, many times. Mr. Jake had a special place in her heart. She also loved to bake but, because of the diabetes, gave most of it away. After seeing Ellen at a celebration, my partner, Jule, gave this perfect description, "I saw Ellen today. She was walking down the steps with a cane, an oxygen tank over her shoulder, carrying a cake she made that she could not eat." 

Later in life she discovered Native American Pow-Wows. She loved to watch the dancers in Native regalia. She loved the outdoors as well, but couldn't sit in the sun because of the diabetes. She'd lug her "stuff" to the Pow-Wow . We could always spot her perched in her webbed aluminum folding chair, under the sunflower umbrella, duct taped to the back of the chair. With childlike wonder she embraced the Native ways. She received her "Spirit name" from the medicine man.  And on occasion, her cane in one hand and my elbow in the other, we'd walk around the dance circle, while Native dancers whirled gracefully by.

The amount of trauma we've survived, the amount of challenges we face have no bearing on the amount of happiness we can experience or the amount of joy we can share. Learn from Ellen. Live the dance!