I received some sad news today; my dear friend, Victoria, has lost her mother to cancer. Though it comforts me to know that Victoria will not be alone in her grief, I am devastated to see the world emptied of the proud and joyful Janice Simmonds. Victoria and I met during her single semester at the University of Puget Sound, and those few months were enough to create a lasting, fulfilling friendship. Because Victoria returned to her hometown in St. Paul, Minnesota, just a few hours from Birch Trail, Victoria and I were able to visit each other regularly. I spent several Christmas holidays with Victoria and her family, and always cherished my time with Victoria’s younger siblings, Alexandra and Walker, her stepfather Jerry, and her mother, Janice. Janice always welcomed me into ther home with warmth and humor, treating me as if I were one of her own children. Over the years, I grew to think of Janice as someone I would aspire to imitate; her bold sense of humor and undying loyalty to her family were enviable qualities. The love that Janice’s family returns will be a fitting tribute to her memory.
I won’t speak of Janice’s brave struggle to beat her cancer–we all know the price that terminal illness demands along the way to death. What I will speak to is the strength of the Simmonds-Trooien family, and their commitment to honoring Janice’s legacy. I know that Victoria, Alec, and Walker will continue to make their mother proud by living their lives with exuberance, joy, and courage. Today, Victoria joins me in grieving over a lost parent–a club of which we are both unwilling members. There are no days more difficult than these, my beloved friend, but there is happiness yet waiting for you down the road. Please let me help you find it.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Children’s Hospital, Jeremiah Program or Lake Hubert Conservation Association. 651-228-1006
Please view Janice’s obituary in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.