Jo’s Final Journey

Hi Everyone.  It has been both a beautiful and incredibly difficult week for our family. A week of many tears, smiles, memories shared and visits from family and friends.  We are so grateful for everything (and everyone) even at such a challenging time. I know it’s been a while since you have all heard from our favourite person – the one we love so deeply, our Jolene.  However she’s unable to attend to her writing anymore –  which has moved, inspired and given us all so much perspective on life.

I will try my best to wrap up this past week, as it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and I really want to let people know what our girl has been through, but more so the opportunity to reach out to her while she still can read or listen to messages and memories. Here’s a brief recap, only missing the beautiful visits by both family and friends that Jo appreciated so very much, and was fortunate enough to partake in.

Last week, we had a visit from our doctor who shared the devastating news that the tumours had progressed significantly, something that even Jolene had predicted based on her symptoms. We got right to the point and asked about our time, which we were told a “week to weeks”, as they call it.  Jo and I let the news sink in – a day which we knew would most likely be here sooner than later, and then true to herself, my girl started planning a small family & friends gathering for the weekend – to help allow the kids some extra distraction, as we planned out how we would share the devastating news.

Telling Jo’s mom Connie was one of the hardest things (along with the kids) we knew we would have to do.  She has been through so much – much more than any parent should ever have to go through, after losing her other daughter, Amy, only 4 years ago.  She has been so instrumental in supporting Amy’s kids, all while still carrying on being a very present and loving grandmother to our kids.  Hearing her best friend be diagnosed, struggle through her year and half long illness and to now be at the point of having to say goodbye – absolutely heartbreaking.  But she needs to know she is so so loved and we will persevere – just as Jo wants us to.

Telling our oldest daughter Ryersyn, was the hardest and most crushing thing we have ever had to do together as parents. It’s hard to relive that small window of pain, but we’re happy to say she is carrying on strong (like her mom) and surrounded by so many who love her.  She is such an amazing child and person who both her mom and I couldn’t be more proud of. She will continue to need the love and support of the community in helping keep things as normal and regular as they should be for any kid.  We deeply thank all of those who have helped make this journey for her as smooth and happy as it could be – we truly are so grateful for this.

We just told the twins last night that mommy is going to stay somewhere where they make her more comfortable…and that she wouldn’t be coming back home…but rather be going to visit Papa.  Heart crushing.  However, we did it as a family, with Ry and Connie by our side as we truly are going to be “all in this together” going forward – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Our youngest Campbell – took it the hardest, and made me remember/re-live how hard it was for Ry.  Gallagher had difficulty processing it but had some really good questions which I knew helped with understanding things.

Jo had a beautiful visit with her dear brother Jesse and Ron last night – which she really enjoyed and are two men she loves dearly. Ry fell asleep with mom last night, knowing it might be moms last night in “our home”.  The three of us just layed there together, like we used to do when Ry was young and reminisced about how we knew we wanted a child, and how she made us a family.  It was beautiful. It was perfect. It will be forever in my heart.  I let Ry fall asleep with mommy before moving her later.  The twins and Ry then came to cuddle with mom in the morn, not knowing if this would be the last time they see her at home – although Ry knew in her heart.

And so, here we are  – an hour before making our journey to Sakura House where we hope Jo can pass comfortably and away from home – where she wanted. And as I lay here next to Jo – I know that this was something she really wanted to share with all of you – all of you who have been so supportive of her journey. So Loving. She is forever grateful to have known and made memories with many of you and is so at peace.  Her last request was for me to write all of you and ask if there is anything you’d like to say or share – this is the time to do so,  as her new journey is shortly about to begin.  Thank you for everyone who has joined Jo in this unbelievable ride they call life – it truly is grand.

We love you all so very much.

76 Comments Add yours

  1. Leeann Rosenberger (snider) says:

    Jolene, Justine and Family My Heart is full of amazing love and strength of your family and friends, and deep sorry at the same time. Jolene you are an amazing beautiful person, wonderful mama, awesome friend and family member to so many. My niece is Shawna and my brother is Dale and they both think of you as family….. You will never be forgotten…God bless you and your family ♡♡

    Like

  2. Hawkins family says:

    Jolene, thank you for sharing your journey, you have been incredibly brave, your strength and vulnerability to share your insights on life and put all into perspective is truly inspiring.. Though we did not formally get to meet, I am sending you big hugs to you and your family. My daughter is very fond of Ry since moving to Drumbo a couple of years ago , Ry was very welcoming to my daughter and this type of trait only comes from having loving, caring role models in her life. Wishing you all the best in your final days Justin and Jolene please feel the warmth from our little community to your family, we are here for you.

    Like

  3. Nicole Powell says:

    What an incredible Journey you and your family have endured. I wish for you love and comfort in these moments.

    Like

  4. Tamara says:

    Jolene,

    Thank you for sharing your story and for being so graceful through it all.

    Thinking of you and your family as you begin the next stage of your journey.

    Like

  5. Emily Gignac (The Beauty Barn Spa) says:

    In life we meet people that help us to become better, stronger, more loving. Help us to appreciate every single moment that we are blessed to experience. Jolene was that person for me. I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet you when you visited my place of work The Beauty Barn. You were an absolute presence of light and strength. Thankyou for sharing your story. Thankyou for helping me see the beauty in every day that we are given. I will remember you for the rest of my life as an incredible beautiful and inspiring woman who made me a better person. Rest peacefully; your strength and light will travel on. Sending immense love to you and your amazing family.

    Like

  6. Scott says:

    You have been an inspiration to us all and more importantly, a wonderful mother. Not many of us get to leave a legacy behind, but yours will go on in the lives of the beautiful and loving children you have raised and given a fantastic childhood to. I hope you all make some wonderful memories and stay strong together in the time you have. Thinking of you all. Love from Scott (London, UK)

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  7. Elaine Brown says:

    Jolene you have been an inspiration to all of us God Bless your family let peace be in your heart’s your friend from McDonald’s Elaine Brown

    Like

  8. Amy says:

    Jo Jo,
    When I think of you I remember that girl I always admired (still do your strength is remarkable) you were always there for me. A friend I could count on in during the 5 th and 6th grade the hardest two years of my life.
    We went our separate ways in high school
    as I did with most. However I want you to know that your friendship was always so important and you have a special part in my heart where you will always be.

    I remember the grunge days doc Martin’s and flannel shirts the Beatles and your smile. Jo your strength is beyond words your family is full of so much love as I watch your beautiful family grow through pictures on Facebook.

    You made a difference in many lives you are remarkable beautiful and an angel.
    I wish nothing but peace and no more pain for you and your family as you pass and leave this world always in our hearts and never forgotten.

    Justin your strength throughout this journey is admirable I wish you and the kids all continuous strength and you have so many people that care and support you. I can’t even imagine how difficult this must be for you and the kids . But I know jo will always be watching over you.

    Much love to you all and thank you for sharing your story I know your writing inspired many.

    Jo goodbye my friend until we meet again.
    Amy Firlotte (Seamone)

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jolene, Justin & family: As I sit here with tears running down my cheeks, I am at a loss for words. I pray for a peaceful transition for you, Jolene. I stumbled on your blog about a year ago and have followed your journey; I am in awe of your grace and strength in the face of adversity. The love of your family is evident in the photos and stories; it will surround you forever. Godspeed and may you always fly with the angels.

    Like

  10. Marta moniz says:

    Jolene, thank you for sharing your journey it showed me how strong you are, amazing and beautiful mother and wife. Thank you for sharing.
    I wish you love and comfort my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Marta Moniz

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  11. Carol Hutchinson says:

    You sure have been an Inspiration To All Jolene : Families Friends : God Bless You All :!

    Like

  12. Karly Cummings says:

    Jo,

    It’s taken me till today to write here because the beautiful words that Justin has shared with everyone has crippled me. I know you want me to be strong and “pull my shit together” so for you I will. I have known you for a lifetime and was lucky enough to be one of your best friends. You took a chance on me 15 yrs ago and for that I am forever grateful. How many people can say that their mentor is one of their best friends. I continue to aspire to be as great as you, I am always in awe of your talent (competitiveness ;), class, knowledge, quick wit, determination and your ability to gain the full attention and respect of anyone you meet.

    I am going to hold onto all of the amazing, hilarious memories we were able to make together and cherish them for a lifetime. You have battled this journey like a boss as I knew that you would, your determination, perseverance and love for your family is incredibly admirable. I can see the same spunk, determination and compassion in your beautiful children and I promise you I will continually tell them how amazing you are for as long as they let me.

    My life would look so different had you not have come into it, my heart breaks that I won’t be able to hear from you at a moments notice and continue to make incredible memories together. You will be forever apart of soul and I thank you for being a true friend to me all of these years, I’m so proud of you.

    Continue to be strong in this journey, I love you so much xoxo

    You got this!

    Karly

    Like

  13. Anonymous says:

    I love you guys soo much, praying for more love and peace to fill all our hearts going forward. ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

    Like

  14. Suzanne McCormick says:

    Jolene I will always remember you for your beautiful smile and kind heart. Do you remember bringing one of Miss Padfield’s critters down to the school office to read to me. It was so precious. Keeping you and your family close in thought and prayer. Most Sincerely, Suzanne McCormick

    Like

  15. Joy Keefer says:

    Beautiful Jolene and family
    Our family has held your family in prayer during this earthly journey – celebrating with you in the joy filled times that have been shared and trying to hold you more fiercely through prayer, during the terrible times shared. We love you because of family – a great gift from our loving Father. Our love to all of you. You have taught me much – thank you.
    Joy Keefer (de Waard)

    Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    You have a beautiful and strong family. Our thoughts are with you all at what has to be a very difficult time.

    Like

  17. Laura Dzsudzsak says:

    My dear beautiful friend and mentor,

    Our collective hearts are broken as we read this unbearably heartbreaking update. It’s hard to find the words, but I’ll try…

    I asked someone today for a miracle, and I was reminded that the miracle is that you were part of my life, which I will cherish forever.

    I am forever grateful for you guiding me into the career I am so happily in today, and, to have the opportunity to work under your mentorship over the many years – even when we weren’t working together during that 4 year gap (thank you!). Your impact on me personally and professionally, is unmatched. Your perspective. Your wit. Your intelligence. Your perfect amount of sarcasm (seriously the best!). Your ability to diffuse any situation with such realistic and clear thought. Your wisdom (you always have the answers, no matter the subject). Your beauty inside and out. Your confidence, and always staying true to yourself. I was telling Tayjah tonight that not much ever really rattled you; it’s incredible. She said you’re basically a unicorn, and I think that’s so perfectly true!

    I have learned so much from you, and I’m heartbroken I will be missing your friendship and guidance moving forward. When I’m at a crossroad in life, I often find myself saying, “What would Jolene do?” and take a step back to think differently.

    Thank you for the incredible lessons and inspiration I’ve gathered from reading your words of courage and wisdom through the last year and a half. It’s reminded me, and so many others, that life is so precious. Because of you, I aspire to be more kind, to slow down, and to truly appreciate and make memories with those I love. You have touched the hearts of everyone around you. I hope you know how special you are, and it brings you a sense of peace.

    Our hearts are with you, Justin, your beautiful children, and your entire family.

    I love you forever, and I will miss you dearly. Thank you for everything.

    Laura

    Like

  18. Lindsey says:

    Jo –

    I don’t have the right words – they exist in my head but jam when I try to put them into the world. I’m sure you know what I mean 😉

    You are a light. Some people in life just shine. You are one of them.

    The grace and honestly you’ve shown during this trial is classic Jo – a little sassy, a lot of classy, and nothing but the truth.

    Your light lives on in your sweet babies.

    Wishing you and your family sweet peace.
    Xo

    Like

  19. Nichi Aikins says:

    Oh Jolene. I’m so saddened to have recently learned of your battle. My memories of our time together in Jr Civitan are near and dear to me. I was always in admiration of your beauty, grace and leadership. I always was so proud of your accomplishments at the international level, as you should be too. I’m going you are at peace. Know that you’ve had such a positive impact on this world in so many ways. Sending you love from the Aikins family. Xo

    Like

  20. Ryan Walsh says:

    Jolene

    In the word’s of Michael Scott, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.”

    Your impact on our lives cannot be measured. You are a mentor, a teammate and a dear friend. I am grateful to have known you across the many hats that you wear. While the “office” will never be the same without you, your confidence, your optimism, your incredible sense of humour, your legacy – will always be known.

    Thank you for bravely reflecting with all of us as you take the next steps throughout your journey. You and your loved ones are/will forever be in our thoughts.

    We love you Jolene!

    Ryan

    Like

  21. Manuela says:

    Your blog has been truly touching. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. God Bless you and your family and I pray that He will surround you all with a multitude of angels.

    Like

  22. Sandy says:

    Reading your blogs, praying for you and your family, with tears down my cheeks, I have realized how precious life is. I truly admire your strength, courage and beauty.
    You have raised such a beautiful family and I know you will always be with them. It was so enlightening to see the wonderful Christmas memories you were able to make with your family and feel good enough to enjoy. My prayers and blessings for you Jo and your family. If you must go, then I wish you peace 🕊 🙏🏻

    Like

  23. Anonymous says:

    I will always remember our great lunch discussions in Brampton and those veal sandwiches. I was lucky to know you. I pray for you Jolene and the strength of your family. God Bless

    Like

  24. Malgorzata Kozera says:

    Jolene,
    I can’t say I know you well even though our paths had crossed at some point in our lives. I was following you blog and I know you more from reading it and following your journey through this heartful time. I admire your courage to share detailed and painful experience and for showing us the brave face, the strength and the love for your family. You’ve showed us that nothing is important in life more than the people we truly love. Many times, we find it too late. You are so lucky and blessed to have that time with your family, to grow the love for them, to cherish them, to pass all your love and strength to them, to make memories, which they will hold on to for the rest of their lives. It’s hard to leave having so much and feeling that the mom’s job had not been completed but as hard as it is, I believe that you’ve used your short time so well and you can be very proud. Very often we hear that things are happening for a reason; I don’t understand why you but if there is a reason it better be a good one. I hope that you know that your gorgeous kids will grow strong because of you and your courageous journey. You are a wonderful person and a great mother. Thank you for letting us be a part of your last journey. Stay strong and at peace. Best wishes for all your Family.

    Like

  25. Carol Hutchinson says:

    Jolene Was Loved by Many: This is all So Heartfelt : Jolene made a Difference To all her Love ones ! Never Forgotten : Jolene Touched In Positive ways ! Even if it was A Smile A Hello : Our Prayers and Thoughts ,s Will Forever be within Our Hearts always ! So many Hearts are feeling Sad And Broken : To Her Families At this time :

    Like

  26. Anonymous says:

    Justin and family, i came upon your beautiful wife’s blog through a mutual friends Facebook page. Never knew until Jo’s final tear, that she was your wife. Our son Adam played hockey with you in Burford years ago. Just wanted to let you know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful little family at this time. Jolene’s blog was beyond a very brave and honest thing for her to share her story, her love for her family and also the dark and real side of cancer. Even though we did not know her, we know now what a special person she truly was. We send you strength and courage. The Bickell’s.

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