The Gift That Keeps On Giving
[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I have been haunted the last few days by an email I received from one of the farmgirls. Not haunted in a way that compels you to flee, but rather in a way that begs you to stay and sit with it a while, facing those things that we all too often would rather not face.
The farmgirl’s email stated:
I just read Julia’s blog…and felt connected. My sister lost her little girl, age 11, 20 yrs ago and my heart still aches for her being lost to us. We were very close, as she reminded me of myself as a little girl. Whenever we would visit (me from MA, and she in CT), she would climb in my lap, sit and visit with me, even though I brought my three children, all close to her age, to play with her. She just wanted auntie. The year before she died, I was asked if I would donate blood in her name. I did. It was not something I found easy to do, being of the “squeamish persuasion.” I am writing to ask you, in her memory, if you ever take suggestions on a column to write. My request is to ask others who have never given blood, to dig deep in their hearts, if they are able and healthy to please, donate. You could save the life of a child, or someone’s momma or daddy. I try to give several times a year now…and I pray, as Julia’s story is still being written, that little Aria is doing well these days.
Thank you for listening, I am praying for Aria.
For the few that may not know, Aria is the beautiful daughter of beloved farmgirl Julia Hayes. Julia and I met through MaryJanesFarm and it was instant sisterhood. I think the connection came when I looked into her eyes and saw a fellow “thriver,” not a survivor but rather another soul that was just committed to thriving despite the hand she and Aria have been dealt. Julia is the quintessential mama bear. She wakes up every morning and stares down the beast that is cancer raging in Aria’s little body. She has a strength I cannot even imagine, yet I know that if love were enough to heal Aria, the battle would be over. You can read Julia and Aria’s story on Julia’s blog. www.about-aria.blogspot.com
All too often, it is easier to turn our backs as if to say, “This is out of our control; we can’t change it.” I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times as Julia has shared Aria’s journey with me and I have felt so helpless, unable to even wrap my head around it, let alone be aware of what to do to make a stand for Aria.
As I have tried to sit with this letter, I have recalled emails from Julia. One in particular has forever changed me. In it, Julia described a day at the clinic as she sat in the waiting room. Her email shared the stories of all the families that were there. Stunned by the intimate way that Julia knew each of them, which is silly, considering I know Julia and I know that she is the kind of woman who listens from the heart. Yet I felt amazed by her ability to be vulnerable to the stories of others even as she dealt with her own pain. I found myself feeling silly for all the times I have cried “uncle” begging, “When is enough, enough?” in my own life. As our farmgirl who wrote this letter described how her niece would crawl up in her lap, it is easy for me to cut and paste that scene into all the other ones that Julia described in detail.
My boss, MaryJane, has it right; “Every Woman does have a Story”. We have all faced something and come out the other side of it a survivor. However, as a reader of those stories I wonder if we spend enough time really sitting with them, asking what it is that we are to learn from them to ensure that the experiences were not in vain. There is another chapter, in the stories, that launches someone into the thriver category. It is when you can move past the experience and use it for good, just as Julia does with her journaling, and this farmgirl is doing by asking us to give blood. I think that all pain is in vain if we do not move into the part of the experience that allows us to thrive. I do not think that merely surviving is enough, since it seems that simply surviving can leave us stuck in the victim mode. Thriving launches us into life again.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday there are so many reasons to show gratitude, but let us take it a step further and be the thing that others are grateful for, too. If you can, give blood. As you do, think of Beth, Aria, and many other children who need a hero.
I want to thank this farmgirl for being vulnerable enough to share her story…welcome to “The Sisterhood of Thrivers,” and Thank you for the reminder that the act of giving, is a very precious gift.