Joy, strength and inspiration. We may draw these from our surroundings; the music we hear, words we read, beauty we see. They may also come from people, shared stories and smiles. The smallest act of kindness or even an inherently sad situation can empower us with these feelings. During a time of loss and while showing extreme personal strength, some close family friends have managed to give strength and inspire others. They are now endeavouring to uplift and spread joy not only to family and friends but also anyone who may need it. I will share the story in the families words.
‘Only a few months ago Judith was sitting on a bench at the Freeman Hospital waiting for one of her numerous appointments when a stranger placed a stone on the seat next to her, said nothing and left. Judith picked it up and wondered if it was for her. It certainly was! It was absolutely the perfect stone with a perfect message given at the perfect time to Judith!
The stone has a brightly coloured picture of a house with a myriad of colours above it on one side and on the other says the key words “LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE”. Judith was uplifted by this random act of kindness which truly brought her extra strength and happiness. This message is great advice to all of us and was particularly resonant to Judith as she realised that is what she did and was determined to continue to do. The stone still sits in pride of place in Judith’s kitchen where she placed it so she and everyone in her life and in her home would see the stone and be inspired by it – both by the power of the kindness of a stranger and also by the truth of the message. We can all learn from this and from Judith’s strength of character and determination. Despite her illness Judith was determined to live life to the full, to LIVE HER BEST LIFE.
Sadly, on 8th January 2019 aged only 57, Judith lost her battle with Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s organs. The family did not want to hold a traditional funeral but instead chose a Celebration of Life to celebrate Judith’s life. They painted over 100 stones and invited everyone at the church to pick one up as they left.
They asked people to keep the stone to share Judith’s memory and legacy or to pass it on to someone that you think needs some strength and support in their life. They also asked that you may like to collect and paint other stones to hand on to others, either to those you know and love or to strangers. This legacy of giving and kindness is the perfect legacy to continue on behalf of Judith.
Lets live as Judith lived and strive for each of us to “LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE”’
I am in awe not only of Judith’s strength, but also her families response to their loss. Last Saturday night our families spent the evening catching up, eating takeaway and painting stones. Since then we have been ferociously painting and are going to start leaving the stones in various places up and down the country. I love the idea that these stones could make a difference to someone’s happiness, however significant and whatever increment of time it may be for. If even one person can be encouraged to live their best life by taking joy from something so simple as a painted stone, a sunset, or words of kindness from a friend, then Judith’s legacy will live on. The family have set up a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/396596654249096/ and the hashtag #stonesofstrength where people can share photos of the stones they leave or find. It costs nothing to spread a little bit of kindness (although, technically this time I did spend about £20 on paint).
Live your best life, in loving memory of Judith.