In Loving Memory of Sharon: My Inspiration, My Ambassador, My Dear Friend

A few weeks ago, I lost my very best friend of 20 plus years. It was earth shattering and since then I haven’t stopped thinking, not only about her, but about everything she taught me and how much she inspired me and so many others. 

One of my favorite pictures of Sharon

One of my favorite pictures of Sharon

Sharon was a shining light in this world. She knew what was important: family, friends, appreciating the small things, the quiet moments, the beauty around us, physical and emotional strength, and laughter. Even though she was petite in stature, she thought of herself as a giant and came across as larger than life in all the best ways. She exuded confidence and always showed up anywhere with a smile and a great attitude. Never once, in all the years I was fortunate enough to have known her, did she complain—even in the very worst of times. She had an uncanny knack for turning lemons into lemonade. In fact, she told me that cancer was the best thing that happened to her! I feel that was an overstatement, but in some ways, I know she really believed it. Her diagnosis is what encouraged her to spend more time with her husband, children, and grandchildren; she took time to travel, sleep in, and enjoy the quiet times. 

Sharon was my personal trainer and one of my original biking partners. She brought so many people into our group, each of whom brought more people—and I’ve become close friends with every single person. Our biking group will always remember the moments at the top of a particular hill here where we would stop with Sharon and take a "Zen moment" to really appreciate the beauty around us. This was her greatest gift, making every connection, person, and moment feel special.

The view at Sharon's favorite "Zen moment" place

The view at Sharon's favorite "Zen moment" place

Sharon knew me in my life as a surgeon and saw me at my best and worst. I used to work out at 6:00 am—and, no, that is not my favorite time of day, I was definitely cranky! But she saw through my snarkiness and fatigue, and was unbelievably uplifting and positive. Despite my early-morning demeanor, she saw the best in me. She was supportive when I left surgery and found my way in the world of jewelry. She was the first person to see every new piece I made and her “Oohs” and “Aaahs” were so encouraging. Forever my cheerleader and ambassador, Sharon had a gift for seeing the positive in everything and was able to lift those around her up. She could listen and not judge. She could keep a secret. All of these things make me want to be more like her—someone who makes the world a better place.

While I have always recognized that exercise and physical activity is important for both your physical and emotional health, Sharon's death has given me pause to think even more about this. With her passing, I’ve realized the majority of my friends have been made through some form of exercise. Overall, I’ve found that cyclists and so many people in the personal training field share Sharon’s positive outlook and supportive, uplifting spirit, which is why I am drawn to them. Exercise gives you time to contemplate. It requires discipline, gives you confidence, and provides you the tools to cope with everything. You do not have to be the greatest athlete to realize the benefits of exercise—I certainly am not! But I know I could not do anything else well without it.

Our biking group--Sharon is pictured the second on the left

Our biking group--Sharon is pictured the second on the left

Life is all about transitions—some made by choice and some just thrown at you. Sharon taught me to embrace those transitions. The biggest transition I have gone through was changing careers from surgeon to jeweler. I will not lie—that was a very emotional transition. It was like a death of part of me, but I now look at it as a rebirth. Through my jewelry making, I am lucky enough to be able to share some beauty in this world, give others confidence, enjoy my freedom to bicycle, and appreciate every second of the journey—whether it’s the pain of the climbs, the joy of the views, and the thrill of the downhill. And I have Sharon to thank for all of it.

Remember to take a moment to appreciate what you have and the people and world around you. It’s how Sharon lived every day and she would have wanted us to do the same.

 

 

Lori Gottlieb