I am an asshole.
The reason I say this is because I spent the entire month of September reading Mary Tyler Mom’s story about her amazing daughter’s battle with cancer. Every day, I read with tear stained eyes, wrapping myself in a bubble of fear as her words made every parents worst nightmare – come vividly alive in my mind. Illness and death. Two of everyone’s least favorite subjects, especially when it concerns kids.
And then of course, I would pull out the blanket of selfish gratefulness and warm myself with the fact that HER story was not mine. Yes, complete assholeness! Finding solace in the fact that someone else’s pain, or suffering was not my own makes me an asshole.
Worse, after each entry that detailed one month of her daughters 31 months of treatment, I would seek out my own children, scattered randomly throughout my home and place a kiss on their healthy foreheads. And then I would send a 5th kiss to Heaven to reach a forever 4-year-old girl I have never met, who passed away from an excruciating disease. Yet whose story has changed the way I live.
Just yesterday, when I read the day 30 entry – the one that comes right before the last entry which is entitled “The End," my asshole status reached an all new height.
In this entry, Donna and her parents were living day to day, resolved to the fact that the timer was running out. When her mother came across the words of Martin Luther which said, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree," They began planting apple trees. For themselves. For their daughter. For life. Here I was commiserating that I burnt tea and scorched rice.
But what struck me most about the entry is not the courage it must take to look at your child each and every day and not know if you would see them again tomorrow. Not the knowing that you are helpless to control something that is literally killing someone you love. Not the fact that their worlds must have teetered on feelings of sheer terror unimaginable to most of us. Not by the energy they had to continue to plant ‘apple trees’ but by Donna’s moms prayer for her child, sent daily and carefully to be placed at a Rebbe’s grave in Queens, New York which said simply and profoundly,
May Donna Live Until She Dies!
Live until You Die.
How many of us really do this?
Step back from Donna’s story for a moment. Think about all the things that you and I worry about on a daily basis. Think of our rants, and the little inklings of irritation that we allow to creep into our world. Just today, I have seen at least 40 people complaining on Facebook (And it’s only 10am) about the sobbing rain that is flooding the streets. Bitching about gas prices. Frustrated with their bosses, or completely annoyed and fed up with their kids for spilling milk and throwing tantrums. Think of the excuses we make to not do things in our lives, the dreams we are too afraid to reach for when we are awake. The words we left unsaid, the emotions we are afraid to feel. The everyday, mundane, missed opportunities that each of us are guilty of taking for granted. Sunset and sunrise, warm baths and laughter. Coffee and randomly running into a friend.
The metaphorical hundreds and thousands of apple trees that we fail to plant for our families, for ourselves and for others - every day that we live.
Live until you die.
A young mothers ONLY prayer for her dying daughter. May she live, truly LIVE and thrive – continue to plant apple trees – until the day that she lives no more.
May she not take one day for granted, not allow one rainy day to go by without splashing in the puddles, or miss out on the most simple, and basic and gratifying aspects of living. The ‘living’ that each of us reading this is fully capable of doing and choosing on a daily basis by simply learning to LIVE UNTIL WE DIE.
I really am an asshole. Here I am, with the golden opportunity to Live until I die, and so many times I choose not to live, at least not authentically, happily and with gratitude. And here is this little girl and her parents who had the courage to do just that.
Personally speaking, the words Live Until You Die, has forever changed my outlook on life. I realize that this is absolutely a choice. So starting today, I am planting apple trees, sprinking seeds of hope and love and gratitude whereever I go – with the clear cut plan to learn to Live until I Die. After all, not doing so – not learning from Donna, taking for granted the ability to live when so many others in this world are fighting - would only make me more of an asshole. And I am tired of being an asshole.
This guest blog was written by: Stef Daniel
Stef Daniel's Bio
Stef is the 40'ish work at home mother of 4 girls, established freelance writer, blogger and aspiring author. You can reach her by email at email@example.com and see her blog at www.momspirational.com or follow her on Twitter @momspirational.