My Friend is Gone
Guest Post by Stephanie Sherbel Jasuta
Although Irene has been gone for a whole month, I can only barely believe it. Memories of my glorious friendship with her keep playing in my mind.
We started our acquaintanceship because of a tragedy in my health. During the birth of my second child, the obstetrician noticed a melanoma growing on my back, in the middle, under where my bra would fasten. Right after giving birth, with shock and horror, I had a biopsy, bad news and a wide excision during the same weeks that I was first nursing my new baby. It was grim for me. But, the news was as good as it could be, given the circumstances, and no further treatment was recommended. I would be monitored for reoccurrence
Would I see my baby grow up? It was a heavy load to carry during the post partum period. I rocked and fed my baby the best I could with tears running down my cheeks.
Enter Irene. My connection with Irene started from someone else’s giving heart. I went to my son’s preschool to drop him there and show off my new baby girl. The director, a deeply caring woman, took one look at me and knew there was something going on. She asked and I told her. Her reply was that she had an appointment with a new massage therapist in town. “You take it.” I took it!
Guess who had moved to town from Canada and was waiting to meet the people who would be lucky enough to be her massage therapy clients. My soul mate, Irene Novak Watson took me in and became my best advocate. My best advocate. This phrase was used over and over during her Memorial Service last week. She was all of our best advocate. This has become a new focus for me in my spiritual practice. I want to be a “best advocate” as much as I can. Thank you, Irene. This concept is a gift to me from your passing.
Did I say “spiritual practice?” Yes, I did. Irene read books about and had a spiritual practice and, gradually, I read the books and opened up to my own spiritual leanings. I have my rich inner spiritual life, in great part from knowing Irene.
It was heaven having Irene be my massage therapist and more. Every Tuesday from 10:30-12, she helped my body recover from all it had been through and she awoke my soul to many interesting concepts which became themes in my future life.
Not only did she nurture my body and soul, but she studied with a brilliant mentor here and became able to provide hypnosis for resolving life issues and for preparing the body for surgery. She helped me overcome the grief I felt over my father’s early passing through a meaningful hypnosis session in which I gained a multitude of insights about myself in several areas of my life. In Irene’s sessions, you did the talking and she taped it and, she made sure that you remembered every bit of it. I blossomed under her treatment, recovering easily from surgeries which I went to with her hypnotic treatment, and always had good outcomes (no more bad news!). Yes, she was advocating for me at every level of my existence!
I remember she would ask me about my family celebrations, birthday parties, getting to wear the clothes I wanted as a child. I tried to describe the way I was raised as authentically as I could. It wasn’t until I read her eventual book years later that I realized the significance of those conversations. She was completing her recalibration from her difficult childhood. It is one of the pleasures of my life to think that I got to give her the concepts of an easy life she didn’t experience as a child, but she sought to absorb. Did I give back to her? It comforts me to think that in some ways I did.
Then, something happened to me. I was involved professionally in a movement helping people who do not speak to type what they were thinking. Every other week, I went to see Irene and told her of the miracles I was seeing because of using Facilitated Communication (FC). (I am a Speech/Language Pathologist). Then, this technique was studied and disproven. I was devastated. Irene was my advisor and healer throughout my reactions.
Since then I had not been keeping up with Irene on a personal level. I had been reading the Reader Views emails that came, but I just thought of Irene doing her thing, living her dream. Then, I got her column telling about beating cancer. At that point we reconnected and I got to see her one last time.
When I left my house to go to her memorial service two weeks ago, butterflies were all over my lawn. They weren’t moving. I was worried they were in trouble, but they fluttered as I moved by. Some of them flew on my windshield and stayed there as I drove across town. A host of butterflies softened my grief. My friend has moved on. I miss her and I celebrate my wonderful memories of a sweet friend who involved herself in my issues, advocating with me for me. I will strive to emulate your many glorious virtues! Love and Honor for a beautiful soul!