During the Christmas season of 2007 a very special teen’s bone marrow transplant took place. A few months later, her doctor called to report the transplant was unsuccessful. Today, I get to report the healing intended to take place with the bone marrow transplant didn’t happen, but another healing did. The bone marrow transplant didn’t prove to be successful, but what were was the eye, ear, brain and heart transplants that ensued because of it. I’m not talking about a donation of Jonnae’s organs. The chemo and radiation she’d undergone to beat “Leuk” made it impossible for to offer organs. I’m talking about transplants that happened within me. Because of my daughter’s 3 year battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, I have new eyes through which I see; new ears through which I hear; a new way of thinking with a ‘transplanted’ mind and a new heart through which I love. All combine to create an enhanced life experience beyond human understanding. I’m forever grateful for the gifts I continue to experience, courtesy of a life so beautifully lived by a daughter so beautifully healed.
Once her leukemia diagnosis came, Jonnae’s body never really healed, but her spirit sure did. Our spirits are way more valuable than our bodies. The body has an end, the spirit lives on. (Some may feel the need to argue this point. If this is you, please finish reading first!)
Most only know of the valiant spirit Jonnae had during her battle with Leuk. Few know of the victim she was in the 6th grade when leukemia first took up residence in her broken body. I haven’t given voice to the bullying that was happening to her in that transitional year from 5th grade to middle school. Girls can be so caddy. We all know this! For years, I did not want to feed the guilt and shame I knew must be eating at the girls responsible for the nastiness that sent my daughter home from school crying every day. At the time, it didn’t matter if the world knew about it, the girls did. I believe Jonnae’s broken spirit is what led to the ‘broken body’ where Leuk chose to reside. (This could be a topic of an entirely different blog but because this is MY belief, I refused to break down the spirit of the girls and contribute to their suffering. There will be a time and place to share those stories and shine a different light on bullying later.)
The reason I am writing this particular blog is to celebrate the gifts I’ve received in the continuing classroom of life this year (6 years after that Christmas of life changing transplants). I do not want a single Christmas season to pass, where I don’t sit still long enough to reflect on the life I get to live, and lessons learned. Because of the stillness and sometimes surprising sweetness of that Christmas hospital stay where Jonnae and I were cut off from the world, both of our spirits were healed. As a matter of fact, I try to explain my craving (of course not wanting it delivered or wrapped in the same way) for a Christmas season of separateness from a world that mostly does not see, hear, think or love from the same place I do, particularly this time of year.
This is not an egotistical perspective. I’m not out to prove myself right or convert others to my beliefs. (Because it’s so common when one shares from the heart publicly, and I just experienced this very thing earlier in the week with a Facebook post, please do not interpret this blog as an invitation where you are welcome to come in and attempt to do that with me.) Humility is a gift I’m most grateful to get to experience. I still have much to learn and improve on and not only am I fully aware of that, I’m eager to get on with it. My transplanted eyes, ears, mind and heart did not come from a human being or teacher, they came from the Ultimate Creator and I choose to let the refinement of me continue the same way. No substitute teacher need try to edge God out and teach me their beliefs their way. As I mentioned in the piece I wrote earlier this week, whether the test here or the grade ‘there’, I’m not afraid of failure or making the Teacher’s grade. The One to whom I’m most accountable, loves and understands me and will judge me accordingly. My Teacher is loving, compassionate, forgiving and patient and knows my heart the way no human being can. I’m at peace with that! It may be challenged, but it wins and remains.
So draining, detrimental and depressing to witness the desperate need of so many to prove they are right and have a need to defend themselves in their stance. Pre-leukemia I was of that camp. Judging, righteous and fueled with the belief I was right and had to convert people to the ‘enlightened’ side. If you choose to be there, I’m not judging you for it. It’s your life! We each GET to choose where we camp out to experience it. We each get to move freely when we want to camp somewhere different. My choice is to share life, love and compassion with ALL, regardless who they are with and where they camp. I choose not to fight about how we are different, but rather to focus on how we are the same. We are here at the same time, sharing the same life and sharing the same struggles and suffering. Even if they come from the different places, they are the same in how we feel them. What I choose as my role while here (actually I believe I’ve been called to it) is to increase healing and happiness in the same surprising way I’ve experienced it. Instead of remaining on the side of struggle and suffering caused from focus on whose with who, I chose to focus on Who I’m with. I left who I was following and learning from, and choose the One calling me to follow and listen.
God has held me over in the classrooms of Perspective, Peace, Love, Compassion and Forgiveness. I’m glad I no longer am in the classroom of Fighting to be Right, Fighting to Convert and Fighting to Hold Others Accountable (especially when its enough to deal with my own accountability and remember Who I’m accountable to.) In listening, I’m being told not to Fight to be Right (if you are, go for it, just don’t use your energy to pick a fight with me. I no longer participate in expending my energy that way.) I used to hear the bell ring and you better believe I went to swinging. I’m no longer interested in stepping in the ring to fuel the fight and struggle.
I’m being called to humility. We don’t know what we don’t know. (and even what we think we KNOW, we most certainly can be wrong) I’m okay with asking questions and either having multiple answers or no answer. Every day, I seek to learn where I have more to learn. And as a review of 2013 will reveal, even when I’m not seeking it, Life will give me a lesson. The teaching has not come from the world, but from the One who created the world and who sat with me when I was cut off from the world during Christmas of 2007. In the midst of unimaginable struggle and suffering, I was given the gift of a miraculous peace.
God has never left me! When I struggle now, my peace immediately returns when my Accountability Partner, Judge, Teacher, and One who loves me above ALL whispers in the stillness to me… “You are enough. You are appreciated. You are supported, and you are valued as a ‘player on My team!’ I’ll continue to learn and will continue to contribute to healing and happiness as lessons are presented to me to use in my active examples of using them. Don’t think for one second I’m not through out the day, every day, checking in to reconfirm over and over all of the above! That I love; that I’m compassionate; that I’m forgiving; that I’m not judging; that I’m increasing healing and happiness and that I’m open to growth and being more of each, every day in every way.
So, with the heart and mind of an eager child, on this eve of my 46th birthday and Christmas, I’ll go to bed with visions dancing in my head and a hard time going to sleep, wondering if a miracle awaits me on Christmas. My dreams are wildly imaginative, if one doesn’t come true tomorrow, the resounding reminder to BELIEVE has definitely taken root more these last few months than ever….and so I do!!!!