A Tribute to our beloved yogi, Mary Campbell-Spegar
January 17, 1963-November 12, 2017
She was walking toward me at a brisk, perky pace. I was running toward her at an upbeat, fast clip. Her hair was flowing freely in the wind. Mine was tied tight in a top knot.
As we neared one another, our eyes met and sparkled. I waved, and so did she. We beamed at one another with wide smiles, as if we were long lost friends. "Hi!" we each said.
Old Mill Road is where Mary and I first met. We continued to meet this way over the years - Mary power walking and I running, no matter the weather or season.
Our encounters were brief, just bypassing one another, but impactful. The smiles we exchanged radiated gratitude for simply being outside, for putting one foot in front of the other. This was Mary, a woman of my own heart, I thought to myself each time we greeted each another on the road. I learned that Mary, like my family, was part of the Deer Lake community.
Over time I recognized her at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Parish. She would engage my son, Avie, and gush over our family, and then our growing family, as I became pregnant with Grey. After Grey was born, she would gaze at us with a soft grin and eyes of adoration. Again, we were part of a second community.
Finally, our paths united a third time. It was the tie that bound us in a deeper way. She joined LPS Strength & Meditation and became an active member, attending more classes per week than any other guest and getting massages with Leah and Leann. She spent countless afternoons sitting and drinking tea in the lounge and chatting with LPS instructors and team members. We delighted in her company as much as she enjoyed our services. Everyone looked forward to Mary walking through the door, adorned in bright colors and patterns, often late but always full of stories and good cheer. She made us feel good, and yoga made her, a public defendant, feel great.
When I was at LPS for meetings, massages or yoga, I almost always had my son, Grey, several months old, whom I would breastfeed on the couch. Mary would plop right down beside me and share stories of nursing her own son, Michael, the light of her life. We laughed with an understanding only mothers have of the joys and challenges of it, and we bonded over balancing running and motherhood as well as work and motherhood and how we lived to love our children.
Yoga brings peace to the heart of the struggling. In some way, we all struggle, and it was no different with Mary. Yoga alleviates heartache and fills the soul with hope, particularly when shared with others.
Thus, when we at LPS Strength & Meditation learned about Mary's tragic death in a house fire, we decided to bring our community together to celebrate her life and process her passing. We were devastated and alarmed that in such a fleeting moment we had lost our dear Mary, who became part of our yoga family in the last several months of her life.
So we held two donation classes in honor of Mary. Tara Morris, my twin sister, whose classes Mary always attended, taught both classes - no easy task. Nearly 40 people attended, and we raised about $1,000. Per the request of her family, we will donate the proceeds to the Fayette County Children and Youth Advisory Board.
Often in the face of tragedy, emotions fall flat. It is difficult to cry or grieve when stunned with mournful events. For me, the class my sister taught stirred emotions and allowed me to finally cry. I cried for her son, Michael. I cried for her mother, my neighbor, and her sisters, nieces and nephews, also my neighbors. I cried for the LPS team members who grew so close to her.
I cried for Mary's final breaths. Perhaps they brought her peace and paved the way toward bliss, as the breath is intended to do in yoga.
And I cried because I'll never meet her on Old Mill Road again. I'll never see her walking toward me at a brisk, perky pace as I run toward her at an upbeat, fast clip. Yet I hold the memories dear to my heart, and with each footstep, I picture her merrily making her way along, with eyes present yet far away, making the most of her life, her hair flowing wildly, her inner light trying as it might to beam brightly, to share love.
Namaste, Mary. Namaste. May the light within me and within your yoga community meet the light within you, the light you left with us all. We miss you every day.
To share your yoga story of Mary, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will compile all the memories in a book for her family and the studio. Thank you, and may we all hug and love one another as Mary did.