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My beautiful darling friend Jess Ainscough passed away on Thursday.  I’ve never experienced the loss of someone so close to me before and I’ve cried my little heart out (and I’m sure I’m not done yet).  But I know Jess would not want us to be sad; she would want us to celebrate her life.

I don’t know how to put in to words just how much she meant to me but I do know that she would want us to celebrate her life in a big, bright, happy way.  So I’ve laughed and cried as I put together a bunch of pics that make me smile.  This is helping me heal as we remember such a bright light in the world.

One thing about Jess was that she was never afraid to be in the spotlight, especially if it meant helping another person to embrace their own version of wellness.  And as I look back over her life, I know she paid a price for this – there have been awful attacks along the way but let me assure you, she never had an ‘agenda’ – she was pure love.  Just a young girl doing her absolute best to thrive with cancer, sharing her journey honestly with the world in the hope that it might help someone.

Today I want to remember her not as the ‘wellness warrior’ but as the incredible friend that she was.

 

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Jess had this amazing ability to support and encourage you to believe that anything was possible.  Even if you said, ‘I want to go to the moon!’ she would have said, ‘Yeah, just do it!’ without a moment’s hesitation.  And with those few words you instantly believed that your wildest dreams were possible.

I first met Jess when we were introduced through a mutual friend because we had 3 things in common; we were in our early 20s, we had cancer and we had both started this weird thing called a ‘blog’ (we joked that we were such nerds!!) to share our journey while we tried to navigate the world with cancer.

Jess touched my life in so many ways.  She was someone I could hang with.  No need to speak.  No need to justify anything.  We could just hang.

She was infectiously positive.  A few months ago Jess, Tallon, my partner Dave and I were having lunch at Ground in Mooloolaba.  There was nothing special about the day but at one point she turned to me and said, “We are the luckiest girls in the world aren’t we?”  I agreed whole-heartedly but when I got home I reflected on that statement, from a girl who had been fighting for 6 years for something that the rest of us take for granted on a daily basis and I said to Dave, “can you believe she said that?  Jess who has so much she could complain about, is so strong and so positive.”  She really was the amazing, positive beam of light we all see in her online world.

**a little update >> I said ‘fighting’ above but honestly I think I used that word out of habit (because cancer = battle for most of us) – she really did THRIVE. Not fight. She wasn’t going in to war each day; she was embraced life with open arms.  Tara Bliss your post made me reconsider my choice of words – thank you for that.  xxx

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I’ve been playing ‘What’s your favourite Jess memory’ with some of our beautiful ‘soul-sisters’ and it’s been so fun.  So many laughs and so many tears as we remember what a full life she lead.

As a ‘sisterhood’ of girls (Yvette Luciano, Susana Frioni, Tara Bliss, Rachel MacDonald, Melissa Ambrosini, Nicola Newman) we’ve been on retreats together, we’ve travelled Australia spreading the message of Self-love and Sisterhood (thanks to Yvette), we’ve dressed up in our best 90’s outfit to celebrate New Years, we’ve listened to the sweet sounds of Wes Carr in her living room, we’ve roller-skated, we’ve cried at her Mum’s funeral, we’ve laughed at her Dad’s singing, we’ve all planned and plotted to take over the world together (with love, green juice and sunshine!).  She’s touched the hearts of so many of my Shine From Within students with her brave story and tips on eating from a place of love and we’ve posed together to celebrate and shine a light on kind fashion labels.

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My favourite memory of Jess though is an afternoon and evening with her last Wednesday, just one day before she rose above us.  Tallon, Yvette, Jess and I laughed as Yvette told stories in the beautifully vibrant way that only she can, Tallon was as positive and beautiful as ever and Jess’s eyes were bright and her laugh was big.  We laughed about our fur babies and how when we compare them to people’s babies we probably don’t quite realise just how offensive that can be!  We talked about how amazing Jess and Tal’s wedding was going to be – how they negotiated with the venue to get a wooden floor on the marquee so that we could all get dressed up to the nines as we celebrated their love.  That was Jess – everything she did was carefully thought-out, every detail tended to, to ensure the best possible experience for everyone else.     I shared my experience of attempting to discipline some young girls I had just been teaching and Jess, Tal and Yvette roared with laughter at how gently I would attempt to discipline anyone!

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I didn’t think it would be the last time I saw her.  But then I know that’s exactly how she wanted it.

I know in my heart that she is absolutely at peace.  I just wish that the rest of us, especially her beautiful family and friends that have grown up with this shining light in their lives, didn’t have to learn to live here without her.

I find it hard to believe that I won’t hear her laugh again or hug her or text her about the latest crappy TV series we are addicted to.  I find it hard to believe that she’s no longer here.

But I love her and will always love her.  I know she knew that.  If you loved Jess’s message, her stories and her mission here on Earth, please remember that all she wanted was for you to have the courage to forge your own path, tune in to your own body, mind and spirit and live your life.  To be brave, be kind and be well.

I will always love you Jess.

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If you were touched by Jess and would like to do something to honour her, you can donate to Edgar’s Mission, which holds a special place in Jess’s heart.