Thursday, May 11, 2017

     This morning, I got up and began my daily ritual of coffee, cereal, banana and peanut butter. I was actually celebrating, as I got up later than 4:30 a.m., my usual crawl-out-of-the-nest time. Into my second cup-a-Joe, I thought, “What can I write about today that will touch a life, inspire a chuckle?” As I scrolled through my Facebook posts, I came across a message from a former student. I began reading, and very quickly, the tears came. He has five children. One young son was diagnosed with a crippling disease last year, and the son, Jake, narrated a video explaining what his disease was and how he felt about it. I was shocked at the time, never having heard of this disease. My student, Randy, held a fundraiser last year to raise money for the research for this debilitating condition. Today’s post was even more heartbreaking, though. Of the five children, now another has been diagnosed with the same disease. She is in 4th grade. Randy recorded another video, this time, with his daughter, Claire, narrating. She explained in detail how this disease is inherited, and how she feels sharing this terrible diagnosis with her brother, Jake. Oh, my. If you ever wanted to put your life in perspective, just watch this. Unfortunately, I can’t post videos on my blog, but it’s on my Facebook page, and it’s truly worth watching. 

     I am not asking for donations. I am asking that we all take time to step back and take inventory of how very fortunate we are. Some are randomly targeted in this life with diseases with no cure (I have one myself), or conditions that render us less mobile or less functional than others. Why are some affected, and not others? Who knows? 

     This morning, I add one more to my prayer list. When I get all uptight because I can’t get a letter to format or my hair to curl, I need to remember Claire and Jake. When I am worried that I might have a reaction to a medication I don’t want to take, I must remember these little ones. When I fret that I’ve gone over my limit on my Visa, I must ask myself if my angst is worthy of its cause. 

     I remember when, as a little kid,  I didn’t want to eat my spinach. My parents would say, “Eat. There are starving children in China.” Somehow that didn’t cut it for me. I thought, “I don’t know those kids, so what does it matter.” Well, you don’t know Claire and Jake, so what does it matter? It matters because these two courageous little kids remind us of what’s important, and how to face crises. They were not afraid to research their disease and share it with the world. They know what may come, but they don’t know how fast. None of us knows what may come or how soon. 

     Let us squeeze every ounce of fun, joy and gratitude out of every healthy minute we have. I know that sounds so trite. I heard this my whole life, but until you are diagnosed yourself or until someone you care about faces such a terrifying future, you don’t react. How hard is it to say to yourself each morning whether you believe it or not, “Hello, world. What wonderful things do you have in store for me today?” Even if you don’t believe it, scientists have proven that if you send the message to your brain, it doesn’t know how sincere it is, and it will react regardless. So let’s send the happy message after we have a quiet moment for two little kids in Michigan who choose to have fun as long as they can.