July 28, 2015
As regular readers will know, although I’m very much English I have lived in the community of Lafayette, Louisiana for something over 12 years now and they have learned to put up with me, understand me and yes, some of them even like me. It’s the kind of community you read about it books – where people care fiercely for each other, and hug like they mean it. For me it’s a community of creators, artists, musicians and kind business people – most of them who start of as way too cool for me to speak to, and end up as friends.
Jillian Johnson was my friend.
You may know her name this week from the media coverage of the tragic incident that happened in a Lafayette movie theater, I hope it’s one of those names you never forget.
I’m taking a few days away from lusting over clever ideas, I hope you understand. I will be back soon, and just as obsessed.
Meanwhile, here is one of the versions of a eulogy I gave at the service for Jillian yesterday, and leave you with the most important words I know today – Jillian Johnson was my friend.
To those of you who knew Jillian I don’t have to explain anything.
You have your own stories, your own memories and you already understand.
We are the luckiest people on earth to have shared time with her.
To those of you who are just learning about her, who are hearing about this creative powerhouse for the first time, I want you to know one thing.
The stories you are hearing are true, all of them, every. single. one.
We are not having to embellish them, or spice them up, we are not having to gloss over the bad bits or exaggerate to give her life some additional meaning.
When we think of Jillian it will always be about the life she lived, and never about the way she died.
Jillian was so many things to so many people. She loved her family fiercely, and was besotted with Jason and so very proud of Paxton.
I was honored to write a piece in the paper about her a few years ago for my BE YOU series. In that interview she was asked to describe herself in five words:
Her reply? “Well-meaning but generally crazy”.
We loved her that way.
When asked to describe a typical day in her life she answered with these words:
“Wake. Work. Talk. Sing. Create. Work. Play. Eat Popcorn. Sleep. Repeat.”
I will always remember Jillian as a maker, she made art, she made music, she made Acadiana cool. She made me feel like I had to keep up, be better, do more, just to have something to talk to her about.
Please smile when you think of her, and think of her often – and then get up and make something.
Make music, make art, make friends, make a mess, make plans, make waves, make conversation, make someone smile, make mistakes, make a difference, make Jillian proud.
To learn more about Jillian here is the link to the BE YOU article I did with her a few years ago – link