This month we suffered a tremendous loss in the multicultural blogging community. If you knew Jewel Figueras, count yourself amongst the lucky. She was a great friend to so many of us, beloved by all who encountered her smile, her laugh, her welcoming warmth. Jewel = LOVE. Her blog was called Jewel’s Fab Life and she absolutely lived hers to the fullest. She traveled, she tried new things, she made friends and a lasting impact everywhere she went. Jewel valiantly fought ovarian cancer for 4 years, and she fought it boldly, bravely and out loud. She is already so very missed by so many of us.
Photo via HispanicPRBlog
The first time I met Jewel was at Blogalicious in 2010 – it was held in Miami, Jewel’s town, my old neck of the woods. I co-hosted a fun event with my friend Nichelle of Stylemom and I recall Jewel being there to help us set up and make sure it was a success, to connect friends with new friends and to make sure everyone had a good time. That was her way. I will always remember her warmth and kindness amidst the stress of event prep, and how much fun she was to be around. Jewel didn’t take a long time to become anyone’s friend, because she treated us all like friends. She was absolutely radiant, and made you want to be around her.
When the news of Jewel’s passing came to light, I had to look back on my last private exchanges with her. Just this past September, my husband quit a job that he is excellent at but ultimately was not giving him the fulfillment he needs and deserves. Jewel and I exchanged life updates around that time and in typical Jewel fashion, she was full of uplifting advice for us.
“Patrice, if you take nothing else from my journey, please know that life should be LIVED! Enjoy! Figure out how to have the most fun with the hand you are dealt.”
Perspective and encouragement. That was her way.
The day that the news broke on Facebook, so many people I know lamented Jewel’s loss and shared heartwarming stories of encounters and first meetings, special memories of Jewel being Jewel and touching lives. She bridged the multicultural communities. She was a connector and a cheerleader for culture, and for the cause she believed in.
Jewel’s passing has made me very introspective. I’ve been contemplating the meaning of legacy. It’s a big issue to consider. When you’re gone, what will you be remembered for? How much difference will you have made? What will the world think when you’re brought to mind?
Jewel’s legacy shines bright. And we can all learn ways to be more like Jewel.
I reached out to our mutual friend, Jocelyn Allen, Co-Founder and CEO of The Allen Lewis Agency. Jocelyn and Jewel were close, and the last time Jocelyn visited Chicago, we had the chance to break bread and catch up about life and our friend. We discussed what Jewel wanted to be remembered for, and preliminary ideas to carry on her legacy. I had to touch base with Jocelyn to write this, to gain a fuller understanding of the lessons to be learned from this loss.
Afrobella – Jocelyn, how can we be more like Jewel?
Jocelyn — Live more, laugh more, love more.
Jewel was never afraid to live. She faced each day with a passionate optimism and fierce determination. Even on her toughest days, Jewel didn’t give up; she never gave in.
Jewel’s laugh lit up her whole face. Jewel laughed from the heart. She had these cartoon-like facial expressions that could leave you gasping for air, and she hadn’t even uttered a word. Jewel found energy in laughter.
If you were fortunate enough to have Jewel’s love, you truly had a blessing from the heavens. Jewel loved ferociously. Her love was protective, but never smothering; inquisitive, but not intrusive. Her love for her family, her friend’s, her purpose, was genuine.
Afrobella – What would Jewel want us to do to carry on her legacy?
Jocelyn — Take up this fight against cancer. Jewel became an advocate for ovarian cancer research and funding because she saw it as her responsibility. She could have fought for her life in anonymity, but she used her platform to encourage, educate, and inspire others.
Jewel didn’t lose her battle with cancer, she simply passed the baton on to us. She enlightened us on this disease not to entertain us or make us feel sorry for her. She gave us the knowledge we would need to fight when she no longer could. That time is now.
Your gift will help continue the vital work to fund cutting-edge research, provide innovative educational programming, support survivors and their families, and make a difference in the fight against ovarian cancer. To make a donation, go to ocrfa.org/jewel.
Thank you, Jocelyn.
Another way to continue Jewel’s work is to inform yourself and spread the word about ovarian cancer – it is too often overlooked and not enough is known about it. In 2014, Jewel was quoted in a piece titled 12 Questions to Ask When You’re Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer. Click here to read that story.
Jewel lived fabulously and generously. She traveled. She found community in Hispanicize and Blogalicious and if you knew her, she advocated both conference experiences. As a blogger she immersed herself in experiences and shared her world candidly. She conducted herself professionally, and readily connected folks who she thought should work together or just be friends. She reached out with a genuine spirit and didn’t come with expectations or hand out. She reached out and build connections in friendship. That’s part of what made her beloved by people in all aspects of our industry. Her advice in this cute interview with the Everywhere Agency from November 2016: use mind mapping to get over writers block, and her number one content creation tip is to “always use and never forget your authentic voice.” Jewel did that. All the way.
Thank you, Jewel. For being our friend. For teaching us how to live and inspire by example. We will always remember you.