Friday, August 9, 2013

Remembering Joy

As I wrote in my previous post, my dear friends' 14-year-old daughter Joy passed away a week ago.    So say it was unexpected is the understatement of the century.  She was about to start high school and had joined the cross country team.  After conditioning with them all summer, she had her first official practice at the Noland Trail near the Mariners Museum in Newport News. She ran four miles, felt dizzy, and passed out.  They were never able to revive her despite performing CPR on her for an hour.  As it turns out, she had an undetected congenital heart defect.

Here is an article about her in Runner's World.

Joy in "Runner's World"

And now a trip down Memory Lane...

When I first moved to Richmond in 2000, I didn't know a soul.  It didn't stay that way for long. As I opened the front door of my new apartment building on the Boulevard, this little toddler was there to greet me with a huge smile!  A couple of seconds later, her mother Kim arrived in hot pursuit, calling out, "Joy!"  After meeting both of them as well as Ray, the daddy/hubby, I already loved living in Richmond.  In fact I really didn't even care if I met anyone else.  In fact, I ended up dropping by their apartment so often I started referring to myself as "Kramer."

Joy would sit there as we talked, smiling away, pretending she understood what we were saying.  Then every few minutes she'd bust out with "Ah ha ha ha!" and then resume her polite listening.  After two or three more minutes, she would bust out again with another even though no one had said anything funny. After a few more times, we figured out that she was thinking that adults talk for 2-3 minutes and then laugh, so she was trying to be good company.  And she was, the best.

Joy wasn't talking yet, but she created her own animated sign language.  She had a sign for everyone, something that symbolized who they were.  It was hilarious to see how she perceived everyone.  She even had a sign for my father, aka Big Joe.  If you don't know Big Joe, he is very tall with long arms and legs.  He tends to gesture a lot with his hands when getting into telling a story.  And like me he is not the most coordinated individual you will ever meet.   So her sign for him was flailing arms!!!!  My mother said, "How did she know?"

After her baby sister Ruby came along, Joy would sit there and hold her baby doll up to her t-shirt for quite a while.  She was a natural at breastfeeding from the start.  (She didn't change sides though.)

And everywhere she went she pushed her plastic shopping cart.  It really went EVERYWHERE -- the library, the mall, the doctor's office, and strolling on the Boulevard.  Hey, you never know when you are going to find a bargain and want to stock up!

So of course when I got married, she just HAD to be a flower girl.

And here is another one of her, all grown up as a teenager.

Rest in peace, Joy, until we meet again!  You made the world a better place; you filled it with Joy.



Becky McNeer said...

Such a beautiful girl! Thank you for sharing your memories. You obviously loved her very much. Thinking of you and her family during this difficult time.

Skysela said...

What a beautiful tribute. I'm so very sorry for you and her family. I am sure from reading your blog that she touched so many people in her short life.