Today is a heartfelt day for me and for many people in my local area. Six years ago, I lost one of my dearest friends to cancer. Jules Becker was a mom, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a wife, and most importantly – a beautiful light in this world. She was a teacher to many and I am grateful beyond words for the impact her life and her death has made on me. I learned many lessons from the experiences we endured together. The following submission is from my son, Ryan Teasell. When he was applying to college last fall, he was asked to write an essay about a person or an experience that influenced him the most in his life. I could not be more proud of my son for the lessons he internalized and continues to carry on in his own life. We are all grateful for you Jules and you continue in our hearts…
The experience that most influenced my life throughout the past 17 years was knowing, loving and learning from a dear family friend of ours – Julie Becker. Julie was one of my mother’s dearest friends, and was like a second mom to me. She was full of life, had three kids, a husband, and loved being around everyone. She taught me the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life: Not to waste my time being angry, and to live my life to the fullest because we have so little time. I live by this statement in each day of my life through my actions at home, school and throughout my community.
When I first met Julie, I thought that she was quirky. She would have her messy hair in a ponytail, some kind of animal print shirt on with a great smile to go with it. Over time, I realized that everyone loved her because of her openness to everyone she encountered. I never appreciated how much time we spent together until the moment we found out the news of her being diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Her positive attitude about her future and commitment to her health was such a model of optimism for me. It was a tough time in my life because of my parent’s divorce, but Julie taught me that faith and determination about any situation, no matter how dire the circumstances, can bring a person through it to the other side.
After months of recovering from a dangerous surgery to remove the cancer, Julie gained strength and started to look like herself again. I remember the day I got home from school and Julie was there. Grinning with she screamed “IT’S GONE!” The doctors told her that her cancer was in remission. Everyone was inspired by her courage through the healing and we were ready to move on.
Three months later, devastating news arrived that her cancer had returned. Julie had three months to live. Upon receiving the news, she decided that she wanted to have a celebration of life event. It was amazing to see the people she impacted in her life. She smiled radiantly, and brought light to such a dark time, which ultimately helped everyone cope with the situation. She understood what living in the moment meant and wished we could all have the gift of understanding “presence” as she did. Julie died 100 days later, on Friday, April 13th, 2007. The positive impact of Julie’s selflessness at her goodbye party has remained with me. Her initials are written on my cleats to remind me I have an angel watching over me. It’s truly about the journey of life in each moment – not about the destination for me.
The Becker family has a cherry tree outside her bedroom that always bloomed late. The day she died, the tree bloomed. She taught me that even the darkest subject can be brought to the light, and that life is too short to have any hatred. Whenever I see that cherry tree, it reminds me of her. When the cherry tree blooms, I have faith, courage and presence in my own life.