This week a good friend of mine said goodbye to her 45-year-old sister Yola who lost a brave battle with cancer.  At the service there was standing room only in the chapel, in the hallways and in a big double overflow room.  What a testament to a life well-lived.

Even when she was beaten down by treatments, those who eulogized her told us she smiled and laughed and danced.  She never gave up.  She went to work.  She went to the gym.  Even when she could barely find the strength to stand.

A few months before she passed, Yola and her sisters went on a trip to Nashville.  Yola was determined to go to a small bar off the beaten path.  They lined up to get entrance tickets and soon the crowd of 40 was told that there was a special guest who had popped in to perform.  Out walks Taylor Swift.  A serendipitous private concert that they will never forget.  A magical meant-to-be moment.

Yola lives on in her two beautiful children, her loving husband, her three sisters and her nieces and nephews.

The way she lived life, with joy during heartbreak, reminds us all that we only have one life, and we need to live it to the fullest.

Poet Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Yola answered that question fully.  She wanted to be a wonderful mother, sister, friend and co-worker.  She wanted to set and reach goals in her career.  She wanted to make you smile.  She wanted to leave people better than she found them.

She is an example for all of us.  Live each day like it’s the only day you have.  Rest in peace sweet Yola.