Write about the most interesting person you have met recently, or who just stepped into your life. For a twist, make the piece into a character study.
The retreat was set for June 6-8, 2014. The location was a convent and former home for unwed mothers, a place of healing it had been for decades. Before that, it was originally the house that the owners of the Crane Paper Company, which provides paper for the US currency, resided in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Friday night at the beginning of the retreat, a woman named Andrea stood up to speak. She would be the retreat leader for the weekend.
Hailing from Washington Heights, New York, she was a tiny little thing, seeming to be around middle aged, modestly dressed, and in good spirits.
As the retreat was for members of a recovery group that deals with food and eating problems, for nearly an hour and a half Andrea boldly stood in front of most of the 33 retreat attendees, and bared her soul for all to see.
Andrea’s charming disposition, humorous interweaving, and big smile that constantly lit up her face made her instantly relatable and likeable. She had a charisma that silenced the room and her energy was so strong, one could imagine to see her aura – bright yellow and green – surrounding her in that well lit room, that contrasted with the darkness outside.
Her sincerity and humility as she spoke made Andrea’s tale, which sounded like something from a movie, ring with a truth that brought the listener from that room in Westfield, to the streets of Manhattan to experience a journey of hope, strength, and recovery.
This petite woman, who told the audience about weighing over 300 pounds for much of her life, being a person she couldn’t stand, and all the self loathing that went along with it, seemed to be the actual physical embodiment of what can only rightly be described as a miracle.
And although her story contained many depressing elements, and very real deep emotional hurt, this red haired ball of passion never let what she said bring the audience down, always replacing wit with despair.
Andrea would joke about anything and everything to offset the serious subject matter. She was never not completely open and honest, but the way she learned to look back on her past and see the humor in the distance, as well as an ability to have fun in her everyday life, inspired and amused the attentive listeners.
She brought the members of the retreat into her life, gave an up close and personal tour, and narrated the journey that led to her being there, in that room in Westfield that night.
A pretty green dress with a belt, a pair of black flats, and simple clip in her hair with the additional of three cheerful daises completed the picture of a courageous individual who had not only been to hell and back, but came out alive. Andrea was not only alive to tell her story, but she was thriving, and her energy and spirit revealed her truth to all.
The rest of the retreat she would lead the members during various meeting sessions, always happy to share and grateful to be able to inspire and change lives with her message. She was a survivor, a role model, and a friend. Her role in the program and retreat will never be forgotten by those who attended.