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:
Hi René,
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.
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.

  1. Grace~katmom says:

    Thank you for touching our hearts and reminding is that the act of ‘Giving’ no matter how big or small, is the most wonderful gift.
    And yes, as you and and MaryJane both eloquently said, "Every woman has a story".

  2. Reba says:

    Hey Rene, I just witnessed (literally)in a courtroom: my sister on trial, to receive a divorce in a 40 year marriage. Hearing all about the abuse, adultery, and financial ruin was painful!! But she came out shining!! Like the comments, she is a "thriver." She consoled me afterwards, stating, "I’m alright, I’m going to make it, I’m free!!" She is so-o-o beautiful, inside and out!! It is wonderful and a blessing to have these kinds of people in our lives.

    A thriver indeed… 🙂

  3. Annika says:

    I am so touched by the stories of these marvellous women. I have been through and would rather not go into on a blog, some terrible things. I’m a survivor and I tend to land on my feet, so I guess I am a thriver too. It is the time of Thanksgiving, but in truth, each day should begin with a giving of thanks. Wake up and feel life and be thankful for your own inner core of strength. I pray for sweet Aria and dear Julia to keep up the fight and love life as they do.

    Giving blood is a precious gift to give. I hope that we, all of us, as sisters and farmgirls can reach out and give to a stranger in need.

    Thank you Rene’, for a wonderful post and a call to arms as it were to reach out and care.

  4. Rene`, Your column this week is one of the most thought provoking pieces I’ve read in a long, long time. I can’t think of anything else to say except ‘Amen’.

  5. Gary says:

    Thank You for this Bloggie Rene’, as it gives that much needed nudge to pause… reflect and Pray. This Thanksgiving Day I have so much more to be Thankful for than I do to lament, and it is good for the Spirit to pause and embrace the reality of that contrast.
    I don’t expect we will be hearing from you on Thanksgiving Day, so I shall wish You, your Family, and Critters a
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  6. Terces says:

    Such a powerful reminder of how we are all truly connected and how something as unconscious as our own blood can be such a gift to someone else. I’m looking all day today to see how can I contribute to someone else? Thanks so much. Terces

  7. Giving blood is a gift of life, my husband and I have given blood for years everytime we are able. We mark it on our calendar. Why not do it, Tis the season… to give.

  8. Forrest says:

    This has hit something deep in me, deep in my own story. To reach a little further to not just survive but Thrive. To Shine and be the light that falls upon the faces around me. The faces that look to me to guide them to thriving. Thank you.

  9. Rachel Rodriguez says:

    There are so many THRIVERS in my family…your story also made me pause and give thanks for all their encouraging examples. It is sad to to hear of the all the struggles woman face YET so uplifting to hear how they overcome daily. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are faced with pain each day and I will look to serve, like giving blood, as much as I can. THANK YOU 🙂

  10. karen bates (kpaints) says:

    I don’t know how you did it but you did! You topped last weeks column! Thank you so much for sharing and showing us another way to participate… help others!
    There are many of us, ‘survivors’ out there, many from horrendous incidents but I love the new name, ‘thrivers’. I am so glad to get a positive spin on it, thanks to you and Julia for all the encouragement you give to others.

  11. Mary Anne Komar says:

    Dear Rene, my husband and children, well grown up men all lived in the U.K. and Ireland for 5 years, so we can’t give blood because of "Mad Cow" disease, but there are other ways, some big and some small. We adopted 2 sisters from Russia, 9and 12 years old, now 16 and 19, now that’s a pretty big one!!!!But we have been blessed in so many ways! We’re both 60 and 61 now and still involved with teen agers. Thought I was done with girlie hormones, at least mine! Prayer, free smiles, and hope, sometimes that’s all we can do! Happy Thanksgiving, and love coming your way!

  12. Laurel says:

    What a great blog. Thank you for sharing. I would love to give blood but can’t as I also have cancer and am on chemo. I am 57 and considered a youngster in the chemo room. But then there is pediatric cancer. How hard to watch a child come down and go through chemo and radiation. I am thankful my children did not go through that misery. We had a neighbor with a little girl my sons age with cancer. She is a survivor (my son is now 23).
    I hope you have touch many people who will give thanks by giving of themselves.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Laurel

  13. Jeannie says:

    What a touching story that even had me in tears, Praying for this family and all others that are needing some uplifting strength

  14. Carolina Sarceño says:

    I loved the name "Sisterhood of Thrivers". There are days that you don’t know how to thrive, and then you read a column, or someone’s smile blesses you, or you may meet someone with a heavier burden than yours. We are thrivers, and it is a blessing. It is that strive to become the Proverbs 31 woman.

    New year resolutions use to be my habit, and a very unsuccessful habit at that. This past year of 2009, I learned so much through prayer. I did not look at the "end" of 2009 as a success or failure, but rather a journey, one that will be completed in 2010, 2011, 2012…God willing. I am learning to reflect back at my weak points and try to strengthen them in the future. I am not going to use the end of the year, but reflect back daily. Talking to God has helped me to realize that this short life that we are granted is a daily journey. It is to be taken in small doses, and to be lived for in humility. So good-bye new year’s resolutions and hello to daily reflective moments. I can change a day at a time, but a year at a time is too much to concieve. As I grow older, each day becomes more precious.
    I pray you too have time to reflect upon your day and strive for a better tomorrow!
    Happy New Year! Carolina


    Yep, I call it, "eating an elephant, one bite at a time". Happiest of New years.

  15. WillieNY says:

    You have great blog and this post is good!

  16. Lovely blog post. It touched me. It caused me to stop and think and pray. Thank you!

  17. TefeCaftger says:

    Very Interesting!
    Thank You!

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