Any advice on beginning to explain what it feels like to know your soul mate?

I met Jennell on the first day of my years at Bastyr University in Seattle.  My life was about to change that day.  Retrospect provides this kind of insight and it feels like watching a movie in reverse when I think of that time in my life.
As friends and classmates we were in deep and as thick as thieves from the first second. I loved her deeply and our friendship would grow to be inspirational for me on many levels.  Jennell is honest and real and hilarious and absolutely self deprecating and brilliant and insanely talented, and by god if she wants you to like her you best watch out.  She will win that battle.
When I say our friendship was inspirational, Jennell taught me how to be a friend.  I loved the way it felt to be so deeply listened to by her so I vowed to be exactly like that. She taught me how to be truly present in a conversation with someone.  When she would give me feedback or compliment anything in my life I hung on every word. Her words are mindful, observant, and so wicked generous.  It feels so good to be appreciated so I try to never miss an opportunity to love on someone.
 
You may be wondering what it feels like to be adored by someone like this.  It’s royalty. I was with her this weekend and ask me how many times I introduced myself as, “…Tara.  Jennell’s* best* friend.” Then they would ask if I had ever been to Lopez Island before.  My East Coast comes out occasionally. 
‘Have I been to Lopez? Only about 100 times. I said I was Jennell’s best friend.’ 
Fucking hippies, right?  So hard of hearing.
   
I live here, she lives there.  I think I’m a rock star, she thinks she’s a witch. We’ve come a long way, but it’s the same  every time we’re together: no time has passed, we confirm that we still have the coolest chick in the room as a best friend, notice we still have all our old neurosis, and then at some point I’m on my knees bawling telling her how important she is to me.  I don’t even think she looks up from the stove at this point.  She smiles deeply, “I know, darlin. You’ve mentioned that.”

Jennell was diagnosed with cancer in January.  There was a 4-inch tumor in her right breast and sure enough the news everyone fears was true.  By the time she discovered the tumor it was large enough to require a full mastectomy. 

Chemo and radiation start next week and the whole treatment plan
will take the year. She’ll burn her forest down to the ground so that
the beautiful body can start to replant, grow, and flourish.  She is a
hippie, ya know?  It could happen. 
Jennell, I hope more than
anything that these photographs will bring you back to this time in your
lives for years and years and years. I hope you use them to see how
beautiful you are and how much love there is in your life.  Thank you so
much for everything and all.
You will get through this year and you
will be fine.  You will have learned so much about yourself and your
children and Brian. You will feel invincible because you will be.  You will grow very old.

You have to get ugly with me, dude.  Sorry.
 
(small
facts:  Jennell, Brian, Freda, and Sam live on Lopez Island, a small
island in the San Juan Islands in Washington state.  You can buy Canadian weed from dudes
smuggling on kayaks. I’m kidding. I don’t know if you can…. They live in Lopez’ version of community housing, it’s a
small cluster of smurf houses that cost like five cents a year for like a
million years…Jennell and Brian
own Blossom Organic Grocery which is the brothel in town. I kid, it’s
well..the organic grocery store on the island. Rough translation:
they’re the mayors……Freda is six, Sam is four…. ironically, or
maybe not so, Freda is the smartest person I’ve ever met and she’s a
drama queen charmer like her mother. ;)…. Sam named the family cat:
Billy Boom Alligator Orange Carrot Cheese stick…. Sam is so
rad….Brian is smarter than the internet and nicer than good god, Brian
is like nicer than everyone you know.  There ya have it.)
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  • Great photos! That was really nice of you to go out and do this, too. It sounds like they have a cool set-up out there…
    Hopefully chemo goes well!

  • A-mazing, Tara! It is hard to wipe the broad smile off my face. A wonderful gift for Jennell, and for everyone who loves this family. Enjoyed spending time with you…hope our paths cross again.

  • Renee Showalter

    Hi – Just wanted to say thanks for doing this for Jennell, my sister-in-law and brother Brian. They are a very unique and special family and you caught them in their true light! What awesome pictures – sure to be treasured for years to come!!!

  • Renee Showalter

    Forgot to mention that even the toys you took pictures of were toys of my sister and brothers when we were younger. Like the Fisher Price radio in Sam’s hand and the picture of the the cupboard doors on the child kitchen cabinet made by our grandfather – lots of memories even for me.

  • Gretchen Krampf

    Beautiful photos and story about a wonderful family, terrific couple and amazing woman. How grand that you two shared Lopez time together. How blessed to be Jennell’s friend. I love her muchly.

  • Billye

    Absolutely beautiful and moving, Tara. You constantly impress and inspire me! Keep up the lovely work 🙂

  • Brian Kvistad

    Tara, What can I say? You have a true Gift. So Glad I’m Here. So glad you are in this world, doing what you do so well. You help us see the beauty that is right in front of our noses. I am not always graceful, and I know you know that, but I see these pictures and I am knocked to the floor weeping for the love of what I see, in the pictures, and, afresh, all around me: my bowl-me-over-beautiful wife, my giggling-gorgeous children, even my not-so-bad-looking mug. Is my world really so beautiful? My God, so it is. What is it about your work that breaks open my eyes and heart and soul to peel away the sneaky cataracts of familiarity? Happy Easter indeed. God brings us new life.

  • Terri

    I learned of your website/bog through your book that i recently purchased – ” Brave Intuitive Painting” These are such beautiful pictures and they have really hit home since I am awaiting results from my recent mammogram that needed to be repeated and more extensive exams. The way the pictures are portrait is just so refreshing, real and very moving. Congratulations on such beautiful work.

  • These pictures are amazing….I laughed, I cried….ridiculous!!! I will keep this family in my thoughts and prayers and please let us know how she is doing!!!