Friday, October 18, 2013
My Tribute To Jillian Reville
This is not an interview. This is not a story. You will notice I am not using my normal stage pictures or modeling pictures like I usually do. Instead you are stuck with pictures that include me. The reason is, I am not writing this in my normal fashion. This instead is my tribute to an amazing friend, Jillian Reville.
About four years ago, my journey from obese to a bodybuilding stage began. I met and talked with some awesome athletes. However their were two that I did not seek to communicate, because for some reason I was intimidated. Intimidated may not be the best word choice, but what I felt was similar to that feeling when you are intimidated by someone. One of those people were Jillian Reville. I don't know what it was exactly. We had mutual friends, and I was even afraid to have those friends ask her if she would do an interview with me. To be honest, I think part of it was, she seemed high maintenance, like someone who would look at me with a "who is this creep" look. I would see pictures of her on stage, and she looked different from most other competitors, not in a good or bad way, just different. Plus I knew she had some kind of important job, I just didn't know what it was.
Finally one day, I summoned the nerve to ask her to do an interview. The date was December 20th 2009. It wasn't until January 3rd of 2010 that she responded, and by that time, I figured she wasn't gonna respond, I was destined to remain in schmoeville with her. But she did respond and say she was interested, although the response, made me wonder if she really was. I messaged again, and she sent this response "ok cool:) yea send it to both. haha to be honest i am only home at night for about an hour before i go to sleep, and in the time i have to eat, shower and prep for the next day! so work email is great so i can work on it during the day if i have a minute here and there:) thanks for thinking of me and i look forward to checking out your blog!". Sounded interested, but I also felt she threw in her being so busy as sort of an out, a way to not have to do the interview, as back then they were by email and time consuming. But low and behold, she did the interview. And it was a really good one to.
Over time we shared facebook messages. Back then, I was still trying to drop weight and I had as many of you know, some real ups and downs. During one of those down moments, Jillian sent me this, "hey dont give up!! sometimes life sucks ass... believe me i have been through a lot over the past 4 months and i almost gave up too.. but this makes me happy, and i know training makes you happy, so dont give up... things will get better.... i promise...". I thought to myself "how cool, she hardly knows me and is taking time out to encourage me."
At the 2011 Arnold's Jerry Beck was kind enough to get me a pass for working his booth, even though I wasn't. Jillian was working that booth. With the pass, I got in early, before doors opened, and headed straight for the Iron Asylum booth because I had to meet her in person. She gave me a hug soon as she saw me. I soon learned, that is just how she is. If she cares about you, she really cares about you. I felt honored to be one of those people. Since then, a friendship really grew. I learned she wasn't high maintenance at all, in fact, she was the opposite. When I had problems or just needed advice, Jillian was and is a text or call away.
I am not gonna go over her competing career or anything. I will say I remember when she decided to go the physique route, I was excited. I wasn't sure of my thoughts of the division, but I thought Jillian had the right for physique and what they were saying the division would be like. She showed that when she won her pro card. I remember late night texts telling her how good she was gonna do at the next pro show, her sending me texts with progress pics and me being amazed at improvements. Those meant a lot to me, because it meant I was one of the people she trusted enough and thought enough of to send them to me. When she became Olympia qualified, I can not tell you how happy I was. She had worked hard for it and deserved it.
But as you probably know by now, something happened at the Olympia. I am not going to go into details, as Amanda Eva did an excellent job of that, so you can read all about it on her blog here. But long story short, after some medical issues, Jillian found out she had a hole in her heart and actually had a stroke. She texted me to tell me about it awhile back. I was at the gym, and even in the text I could tell how upset she was. I walked to the men's room so no one saw me cry. I cried for three reasons. 1. I was scared for her 2. I knew how upset she was 3. That she thought so much of me to tell me before she announced it, made even more special when she said she wanted to reveal it on my show.
Jillian is set to have surgery to fix it. It will keep her from training and most likely competing in 2014. In this sport, we spend so much time training are bodies, adding muscle wherever muscle can be added. In my mind, this is just time for Jillian to train another body part, her heart.
Jillian, I have had the honor to know you for four years and the honor of calling you my friend. This is something you will beat. Another obstacle that has been placed in your way for you to show the world what you can do. In that message I wrote earlier, you told me not to give up, and as you have since learned, when I set my mind to something, I do not stop. One of the people who taught me that, is you. This is not going to stop you. This condition made a mistake, it attacks the heart, but didn't know you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. I know tons of people have said this to you, but as a friend, I love ya and am always here for you. Just like I will be on stage one day after I get this skin issue fixed, you will one day be back on that stage, and the whole world will know what you are capable of. I know tons of people have said this to you, but as a friend, I love ya and am always here for you.
"One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity."