The end was just as difficult for her as the rest of her life. I don't believe anything was ever easy for her. But when she did say goodbye to this world, she did it after a full and incredible life filled with people who wouldn't be here if not for her--people who love her still. I'm grateful for the music she brought into my life, for the piano lessons I didn't always appreciate back then, and for the heart-to-hearts about being yourself and being vulnerable to love.
My own family of origin was way more huggie than hers. I remember one particular moment in my teen years when she pointed this out. I was hugging her hello or goodbye and she stiffened a little, as she usually did. Then she told me she's not used to hugs, but to keep giving them to her. She told me she loved me, also not something her parents said a lot. She was like that, always trying to move beyond habits and tradition to find what was really important. She came from an upper crust family of educated and traditional people, but chose to marry a war veteran and a cowboy who happened to value education and music as much as she did. Tradition went out the window.
In reflecting on Joyce Burgoyne's life, I hope to take from her legacy all the beautiful things: her love of music, her tenacious survivor spirit, her passion for learning, her open spirituality, her sometimes off-beat sense of humor, and her choice to allow herself vulnerability in matters of the heart. And I hope to think of her as this girl pictured above, because I know it's how she always pictured herself, even when her body changed and illness took over. To her bridegroom, so long waiting on the other side, she will always be the Joyce he fell in love with.
And the new beginning I mentioned in the title? That's them dancing together in the clouds.