Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Door to My Heart


       In 2010, ash from an Icelandic volcano disrupted air travel around
the world for a week. Scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for the
creation of a stronger-than-steel, virtually weightless material called
Graphene. The I-Pad made its debut. Oprah Winfrey announced she
was ending her long running talk show. Dennis Hopper died as did Ted
Sorensen, John F. Kennedy's speech writer. Splash, Ted Kennedy's
faithful dog, also died. So did the co-creator of Trivial Pursuit, the
publisher of Playboy, and the inventors of the Easy Bake Oven, the
Frisbee, and Spaghettios.
     The war we created still rages.
     I always look forward to reading this lopsided annual list. It reminds
me of our incredible diversity and creativity. Our uniqueness. It also
reminds me that life is infinite in its possibilities yet finite in its duration.
No one escapes death. Ping-Ping, the world's smallest man, and Bruce
J. Graham, the architect who designed the Sears Tower, couldn't avoid
it. Neither could Don King's wife, Henrietta.
      But these lessons often pale after I file away the annual list and get
on with the business of living. That is because, in good times and bad,
it is not the luminaries, celebrities, or events in the world that give
me hope and strength throughout the year. Instead, I look to the people
who touch my heart during each year's passing. The people who open
the door to my heart. Their names will never be in the headlines.
Most will never make it on an impressive list of annual achievements.
     So my New Years resolution this year is to thank them and honor
them here.
     The first person is a woman named Lisa who lives in Pennsylvania.
Lisa is a photographer, a talented artist, a devoted mother, and a graceful
spirit. I met her shortly before she moved away. We are not close friends
but I keep track of her life through mutual friends.
      Lisa is the bravest woman I know.
      Roughly a year ago, she was diagnosed with oral cancer. Doctors
removed most of her tongue. Skin was then harvested from her wrist
and thighs to rebuild a new tongue. A few days before this Christmas,
the doctors told her she was cancer-free.
      A few days later they told her the cancer was back.
      Doctors have had to remove the remaining portion of Lisa's tongue.
Unable to speak, she communicates with family and friends through
e-mail and on her incredibly beautiful blog,
Her blog is lit with her poignant insights on life and love and beauty.
She shares her heart, her struggles, and her hope. The blog is honest
but never morbid. With all she has been through, her voice is never
laced with anger or bitterness.
      Thank you, Lisa, for sharing so much, so willingly. Thank you
for reminding me that the way we handle life's curves is our choice.
Thank you for reminding me that drinking a good cup of coffee is a
privilege not to be taken for granted. Thank you for reminding me
to embrace beauty wherever it is.
      I wish you and your husband the adventure of a lifetime on your
post-op RV trip to the Pacific Northwest.
      Keep the windows down.