What MJ Jones Taught a Teacher

Two weeks ago the world lost a wonderful woman, friend, mother, wife, daughter, sister, and spirit. Mary Jean Jones, endearingly known as “MJ,” the mother of three beautiful 13-year-olds, ended her journey with cancer almost two months after her 45th birthday.

To say she was inspiring is limiting. MJ was compassionate, smart, forgiving, wise, spirit-filled, quick-witted and joyful. Even during her own plight with chemotherapy and radiation she looked after and inspired others who were suffering with the disease. She did so with a grace that was truly unique.

If there was an award for the world’s largest and most beautiful smile, it would undoubtedly go to MJ. Her eyes would twinkle and become thin slits as her smile overtook her face. Indeed, her smile was contagious.

MJ’s mother told me that a week before MJ died, MJ added another line to a large book she had created for her children with thoughts she wanted to pass on. One of MJ’s last lines penned in the book was:

“It’s not the number of days in your life, but how much life is in your days.”

MJ, an exceedingly strong and determined woman, embodied those words until she transitioned on Memorial Day evening, 2011.

How are you giving yourself and the world your best today?
How many strangers have you smiled at today?
How have you bettered humanity today?

These were the questions MJ answered daily through her interactions with the world.

The day after MJ was buried, I awakened with her on my mind and in my heart, as she had been for weeks now. I went to my exercise club for my normal morning workout. On the drive there, I couldn’t help but smile when I turned on the radio and heard one of my favorite songs—Live Like You Are Dying by Tim McGraw. I knew MJ was on board this drive.

As I began my normal run I asked MJ to help me out. It was 5:15 am and my heart was heavy.

As I ran, the words to the song ran over and over in my mind: “I hope one day you get the chance to live like you are dying.”

That morning I had none of my regular aches or difficulty that I often work through while I run. Instead, I saw MJ’s beaming face as she floated and ran with me with that grandiose smile.

I improved my sprint time by a remarkable 35 seconds over my personal best.

The man doing the timing was shocked. I wasn’t.

I knew I wasn’t alone that morning. I smiled and thanked MJ Jones, once again, for being there, being her and reminding me to live each day purposefully, lovingly, and with the level of gratitude and enthusiasm I would if it were my last.

It shouldn’t take the early loss of a fabulous woman and mother to remind us all to bring our best gifts – our truest selves – to life every day. But if it does, this was yet another of MJ’s gifts to the world.

May you live your unbridled, fun-loving spirit and personal best today because, like MJ, you consciously choose to…regardless of your circumstances.

MJ, I’ll miss you and your smile. Continue to enjoy the journey. I trust you will. I’m making a point to do the same because of your inspiration.

With deepest gratitude and all my love,

1 reply
  1. Bridget
    Bridget says:

    Hi Rita,

    This was a lovely tribute to your friend, very touching. As you already know she is with you and I believe you’ll be hearing from her quite often. Lol

    A wise woman once taught me, you haven’t lost your friend the relationship is simply different.
    I didn’t fully understand then, I do now, and I embrace the new relationship wholeheartedly. I know you will too.

    Love, Light and Peace



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