A story from Courage Does Not Always Roar.
"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face ... we must do that which we think we cannot."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
I met Amy Jones in March of 2009 by phone, when she was just diagnosed with cancer. At the age of 40, she was an author and a seasoned professional speaker with Zig Ziglar. And she had just released her book for Simple Truths, Twice as Much in Half the Time. Little did everyone know how prophetic her book title would be. It was the most exciting time of her life and the scariest too.
Amy had amazing energy, spirit and faith, with a bubbly personality that was contagious. But her life journey had not been an easy one. She thought she had met the man of her dreams and married him. But the man Amy married chose to walk away from the life he knew, disappearing and abandoning everything in his life, including her. He left messages at his work, for his family, and at their home saying that he was taking his life in a "different direction." Amy hired a private investigator, but she realized that he was never coming home again. A divorce left her with debt and financial responsibilities, as well as emotional setbacks.
In this very difficult time, Amy started to read Zig Ziglar books to motivate and inspire her. She knew that she wanted to work with Zig, but was unsure how. So she set up a time to meet at the Zig Ziglar office for a job. That very same day Zig was actually in the office. He met Amy and, after hearing her personal story of overcoming personal and professional setbacks, immediately knew there was something special about her. The rest was history - Amy went on to tour with Zig for years.
Amy told me that she felt so blessed at this time in her life. She had a career she loved, was amazed to have published a book and had a wonderful loving boyfriend in her life. She felt like everything was going her way - almost that it was too good to be true.
Then, after accidently being knocked down on stage at a speaking engagement, Amy experienced a terrible pain in her stomach. She was diagnosed with kidney cancer; the doctors were very aggressive with her cancer, immediately scheduling surgery and starting chemotherapy treatments. She suffered incredible pain while fighting her battle with cancer, and was still focused on others, even during her last hours.
Amy died on June 2, 2009. I was shocked and brought to sobbing tears when I heard the news. I could not believe that I had just spoken to this woman who was so full of energy and life, and at the same time so sick. Throughout her life, Amy met each challenge with courage, positively impacting as many people as possible with her stories of overcoming setbacks and her faith in God. Her legacy will outlive her time here on earth. She was a true candle in the wind, her candle burned out long before her legend ever will.
Tom Ziglar was there during her last moments of life and wrote this incredible story about Amy that I want to share with all of you:
"I will warn you upfront that this is a very difficult post for me to write. My good friend Amy Jones is at the end of her fight against cancer. Sunday night we went to say goodbye. Life is hard.
Sitting in the waiting room, talking to Amy's friends and family, brought back so many memories. Just about eight years ago, Amy showed up at our company. All 108 petite pounds of Amy filled the room as her smile and laugh lifted everyone around her. We all fell in love with Amy that day.
As usual, Dad was sitting in the devotions room on the first row, taking notes. When Amy was done he hugged her and said she needed to be a speaker. Amy's first speech was in front of thousands.
As Amy's speaking career was growing, she came on board full-time at Ziglar to spearhead a new program called Ziglar VIP, one of our most successful programs ever. Without Amy this program would not exist, and our company would look much different today. Amy was our secret weapon - "Send Amy," we would say - you fall in love with Amy when you meet her.For Amy, life is about relationships, so talking to people about what you believe in is really just about loving them and understanding their needs. Amy keeps things Pure and Simple - I love that about Amy.
Amy and a couple of her friends started a ministry called the Journey of Sisters. The Sisters are a group of women who have overcome incredible tragedies of all types in their lives. Amy became the leader, organizing events at homeless shelters and battered women shelters. More importantly, Amy became the mentor and coach for the other Sisters. Now there are 14 women in the Journey of Sisters, every one of them touched by Amy.
As I sat in the waiting room Sunday night reflecting on all of this, Amy continued to fill the room with her love and grace. The doctors had given her an incredible amount of pain killers and stimulants so that she would be able to say goodbye. For well over an hour, Amy spoke God's love into the lives of the 14 Sisters as they gathered around her bed She told each one of them the strengths that they possessed and she gave each one of them a charge that was unique to them to carry forward the ministry.
Then it was our turn to see Amy. She told us how much she loved us, and she told Dad what an impact he had on her. We held hands and talked. I teased her, as is my custom, and said, "Amy, 12 disciples was good enough for Jesus, but you needed 14!" She smiled. Somehow, on this incredibly hard day, on this incredibly tough journey, Amy filled everyone with hope and love. Nothing about the goodbye was about Amy. She made it about everyone else. Her peace was perfect and her words were pure.
One of the most difficult things for me these last few months has been how "unfair" this has been. Amy is a good, pure, sweet, even fragile in all the right ways. She is someone you want to protect, someone you want to take the place for. She reminds you of Christ, who paid the ultimate price for all of us -pure, innocent, and loving. On the way out of her room her mother told me, "After everyone leaves tonight they are going to increase her pain medication so that she will no longer suffer. This will allow her to sleep, and when she wakes up, she will be with Jesus."
I realized then that I had not been standing at the bedside of a fragile girl; I had been standing at the foot of a giant.
Amy's book sits on my coffee table in my family room and she is a daily inspiration to me and a reminder that "It's About Time" we all start to live our lives fully. What are you waiting for?