When I first moved to Colorado at age 18, I was a lost, starry-eyed girl. I was homesick, lonely, anxious and depressed. These persistent feelings weighed on me and brought me to doubt my decision to even come to Colorado in my pursuit to earn two engineering degrees. These feelings and doubts did not begin to subside until I met Jessi, a girl who lived on the floor below me in my dorm Freshman year of school.
Jessi was a real blessing in my life. Looking back now, I probably would have transferred back to Texas if I had not found the kind of friend I found in Jessi. She was the friend strangers swear you two “have been friends since kindergarten,” because “you are just too similar.” Because you have the same values. Because you spend hours with each other talking about life and love and all of your worries and woes together. Jessi was the friend I told everything to without judgement or fear.
Jessi uplifted my soul. We understood each other. We both valued health in terms of nutrition and fitness. We would go grocery shopping together, go to our 6am spin class every morning, and we even started training for our first 15K together. We also later ran that race together one cold, October morning. It was incredible. One of my favorite memories we shared that will forever have a place in my heart.
That race went so well in fact, we planned on taking the next step together—running a half
-marathon! When the time came though, and Jessi did
ask me to run a Half with her, I passed on the last chance to register, feeling that my body was not in prime enough condition. Jessi did sign up, however, with my encouragement and support, and she began training intensely right away. I was so proud of her and could not wait to hear all about her 13.1 mile journey when the big day came.
The big day eventually did come. Even though I did not run the half-marathon with Jessi, I can still recall that race day as vividly in my mind as our first 15K together.
It was a Sunday I will never forget…
The Sunday my best friend had been training for for months. The Sunday my best friend talked to me about excitedly the night before. The Sunday my best friend ran miles and miles. The Sunday my best friend almost finished her first half-marathon. The Sunday my best friend collapsed within sight of the finish line. The Sunday my best friend went into cardiac arrest…
It was the Sunday I spent crying in my friend’s boyfriend’s car driving to a hospital. It was the Sunday I spent praying in the grass outside that hospital with Jessi’s family and friends. It was the Sunday I had to say goodbye forever to my best friend in the entire world.
The Sunday Jessica Dillion made her journey home to Heaven.
We can all ask, “why me?” or “how could this happen?” but the truth is, only God knows. He needed Jessi for something greater than life itself. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, meaning, there is something to learn out of everything life hands me.
It has been a difficult journey to unveil the reasons and lessons from such a loss, but I decided to embrace this tragedy. To let it uplift instead of tear me down. To let it motivate instead of depress me. To let it inspire. Inspire not only me, but inspire others. Jessi had a gift for touching people’s lives, so why not let her continue to do so?
This blog was once just an idea, pieces of notebook paper of the letters I wrote to Jessi and journaled as an outlet for my grieving heart to help me cope and keep her memory alive, but why can it not be so much more? I dream of inspiring and uplifting others in the footsteps of my best friend. I came to Colorado to discover myself, and I found a much greater journey. A journey to discover myself and to carry on the faith, spirit, joy, love, and passion of a dear friend along with me. A journey for growth of mind, body, and soul of myself and others through nutrition, fitness, and spirituality.
I am proud to announce that as of May 2015, after some training and commitment to healthy lifestyle, I have finished my first half marathon in honor and memory of Jessi thanks to the Colfax Half Marathon in Denver.
Jessi was right there along the way from start to finish. Many thanks to her wonderful family for gifting me with Jessi’s running shoe laces to wear on my shoes and for their enduring support and kindness over the years.