I lost a good friend today, and the world is a meaner, sorrier place because of it.
Her name was Jocelyn Prewitt-Stanley. She died from complications related to the birth of her first child, Emmerson — a child that she and her husband Ted dearly wanted.
Jocelyn was a lawyer at our firm. I first worked with her when she was in our Cleveland office and had the misfortune to get a project from me. When she moved to Columbus a few years later, I began to work with her more and more. She was a fine trial lawyer, a hard worker, a good thinker, and a skilled advocate who was justifiably proud of the good results she achieved for clients. When I had to assemble a dedicated “core team” to work on matters for an important client, I chose Jocelyn because I knew she would do a great job — and she did.
Of course, being a good lawyer was only a tiny fraction of what made Jocelyn a wonderful person. No one should be defined solely by their work, and Jocelyn surely wasn’t. She possessed a deep and indefinable serenity — yet she also had one of the great guffaws you could ever hope to hear. She had a marvelous sense of humor, and when she became animated while telling a war story, the fingers on her hands splayed wide and her eyes lit up. She had a dazzling smile and a dazzling personality to match. She was active in charities and professional organizations. She loved dogs and happily advised me, all too frequently, on how to better train the canine miscreants of the Webner household.
After we had worked together on several occasions, Jocelyn asked me to be her mentor. I accepted with pleasure, and Jocelyn became the senior member of our merry band of mentees. Although I technically was the mentor, I’m quite confident that I learned far more from Jocelyn than she ever learned from me. I admired her candor and appreciated her trust, and was grateful for her patience as she listened to my side of the issues we discussed. She worked tirelessly to help me see things from a different perspective, and she succeeded. As I mentioned, she was a very effective advocate.
The world is a beautiful place, but it also can be inexpressibly cruel. When an occasion of great joy like the birth of a child arrives, it is unimaginable that death might also be lurking around the corner. Those of us who are religious may be able to find comfort in faith; the rest of us can only rail at the gross, cosmic injustice of a fate that snatches away a person like Jocelyn much, much, much too soon — and also be thankful that we had the privilege of getting to know her, even for a short period.
My heart breaks for the loss experienced by Ted, by Jocelyn’s family and Ted’s family, and most of all for the void left for little Emmerson, who will never get to know the mother who was so very ready to shower her new baby with all the love she could muster.