It’s been two weeks and three days since I lost her. She was the person on the earth that understood me the best and loved me more than anyone else, save my mama. She was my grandmother. We were born three days apart and a couple of years. If I had a dime for every time someone said growing up, “you so remind me of Ophelia,” I would be a rich, rich woman.

But you see, I am already. I am enriched that I got to walk and talk with her for 33 years. I am a better person for all the times she comforted me by letting me lay my head on her chest. I am smarter in my dating life because she taught me a lot about men and how to spot the good ones. She and my grandfather also gave me a beautiful model of what true love looks like. He adored her, doted on her, spoiled her and affirmed her. She in turn loved him, covered him, made him want to be a better man with her love, defended him and made his day brighter by her beautiful smile and warm ways.

She taught me that all people matter, but none too much (Rudyard Kipling). She taught me that hard work and determination were keys to life. She also never let me quit, ever. I cannot remember a time where she stayed angry with me. She was practically incapable of that, unless you messed with her family. When she loved, she loved with every fiber of her being. She was a woman of few regrets. When she laughed and smiled, you couldn’t help but do the same. You just wanted to be in her presence. And most of all, she lived her life to help others. She took people in. She gave her last dime. She was even stolen from and taken for a ride a time or two; but guess what, she still gave, over and  over again.

When I look back at her life, I realize she was the most Christ-like person I have ever encountered. She showed the world that is doesn’t matter what “religion” you claim, as long as you have Jesus Christ in your heart, and a relationship with Him.

Even though the grief will grip me in the oddest of times and brings me to my knees, literally. Something else ALWAYS prevails and THAT is joy, unspeakable joy.

That is her, THAT is GOD.

I have seen joy in all of the people that have reached out and lent support. I saw it last Saturday when the sun peeked out for a few precious hours. I see it in the faces of my pups (she called them ponies). I saw it all around the father in my neighborhood and  his daughter that was taking her first ride on a bike without training wheels. I felt her when I broke out dancing last week on my daily walk (she would’ve been SO proud–she taught me to dance to Michael Jackson). I see joy and I feel it everywhere I go. I consider that a gift beyond comprehension.  (I guess my Uncle was right to name me Rachel Joy).

Her life and the the way she lived continues to inspire me every day, every moment.


My wish it that she might inspire you too.


P.S.-Go pay it forward to someone today.


Rachel Joy Baribeau