I don’t think she’s mind my sharing her photo. Although, I didn’t ask her.
You see, I couldn’t ask her.
Because she’s dead.
I know, I can’t believe it either. How can someone so effervescent with life be gone?
My coworker Krysta was picking up frames at a local thrift shop to hang photos in our new office when she met Nancy.
It seems that at some point Nancy’s photo and the frame that held it were donated.
Krysta couldn’t bring herself to leave her behind. She brought Nancy “home” to our cozy little office where we eat-sleep-and-breathe inclusion.
It might’ve been a few days before I notice Nancy’s presence. I’m not terribly observant.
I remember walking around the office to stretch my legs and noticing the beautiful frames Krysta had thoughtfully acquired. I remember being drawn to Nancy’s photo. I asked Krysta who she was. We work with a lot of people each year, but I had seen most of the photos we planned on framing before, and I knew that I would’ve remembered that face.
Krysta told me that she had picked up the frame at a thrift shop and that the owner had told her that the name of the woman in the picture was “Joan” and that she had died and somehow the photo ended up there in an estate sale.
We both agreed that it must be terribly sad to be “forgotten” like that.
As tears began to brim, I made my coworkers promise that they would never ever donate me.
We just kind of kept “Joan” around. Until one day the frames began to fill up with faces that we knew and we needed “Joan’s” frame.
It was then that Krysta discovered, on the back of the photo the words “Nancy, 1990″ and tucked her away, presumably, in the safety of her office.
A few weeks later I found myself a complete and disheveled mess. Things with EB were not going well.
One morning I stumbled in to the office after a night of little sleep, not at all optimistic about my ability to put a dent in my to-do list.
As I off-loaded my laptop bag and flipped on the light I was greeted by the most ethereal smile and the following words:
It’s true that I have never seen the kind of happiness that Nancy displayed. She genuinely looks as if she smiled all the time. It’s as if joy came as naturally to her as breathing.
Where does that joy come from?
Sure, I feel joy. I feel joy daily. But I don’t exude joy. I am not, by default, a joyful person.
I am an optimistic person, a resilient person, a thoughtful person – but I am not a joyful person.
Nancy’s home remains in my office. Though, I might consider sharing her around the when my colleagues need that extra boost.
I want to be the kind of woman that Nancy was. I want someone to look at my photo 22 years from now and see unabashed joy. Joy that is contagious. Joy that is inherent.
I find myself looking to Nancy in everything I do in life these days.
“What would Nancy do?”
Would Nancy eat that second cupcake?
Would Nancy use the Oxford comma?
Would Nancy wear yoga pants on casual Friday?
The truth is, I don’t know what Nancy would do any better that you do. But I like that her presence gives me pause.
I have to wonder if perhaps Nancy came to me on purpose. Maybe she knew that her portrait would shape my life in some small (or big) way.
And maybe that’s why she’s smiling.