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A Heart as Big As an Ocean


I think about her every day. She influences my thoughts and my emotions. She became a part of me just because of who she was. If you ever met her, you know what I mean. When you saw her smile and listened to her laugh, you knew you were in a good place, with a good friend. She made you feel comfortable immediately because it was genuine and truly heartfelt. Most of all, you felt love. Yolande had a special way about her. In the over 30 years I had worked with her, she managed to weave her way into my head and my heart. I feel like she never left because I know she is laughing at the dumb joke I just made. Sometimes I’ll just think of something inspirational that she said and it makes me smile.

Yolande was very brave and courageous. She helped me through chemo because she had been “there”. I thought of her fight and how she never gave up. She handled everything with dignity and grace. She made me be stronger. I wanted to be like her. People say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. We at JAF knew what we had. I’m sure many of us can still feel her love, as it will always be a part of us. There is a price for everything in life. The price for love is grief. Grief is hard, but love prevails. Yolande would have told you to hang onto the love. It’s worth it.

On August 16th, the JAF family will be walking in Yolande’s honor from Jones Beach to Tobay to raise money for cancer research. Your generosity can make a difference. Google “Swim Across America Claudia Ruiss” and click on the donate button. Any amount will make a difference. Yolande would have liked that.

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