But, this past September, I found a story that truly, deeply impacted my life. It is Donna's Cancer Story, and if you haven't read it... you need to. Preferably with a box of tissues handy.
Maybe it's because my own little Monkey was named after my mother, too, who is a cancer survivor. Maybe it's because so much of Donna reminds me of my own little girl, who is way cooler than I will ever be.
Maybe it's just because I'm a human fricking being, and this little girl I never met found her way into my heart.
Everyone has been through *something*-- we all have our scars and damage. Some people have a whole lot. Some people falter under the weight of all of it, and sour their outlook on life and love and goodness. Others, like Mary Tyler Mom-- Donna's mom-- make a conscious decision to overcome. Choose not to be held down by what is handed to you, no matter how raw the deal. Choose to make your life matter.
Choose to see goodness, wherever it may be found... and admittedly, sometimes it is very hard to see.
That is the motto of Donna's Good Things, an organization dedicated to spreading the positive things human beings can do for one another in the name of a valiantly brave little girl who lost her fight with cancer. She lives on in the kind acts of strangers and friends.
She lives on in the hearts of those who knew her, and even in those who didn't get that chance...but honor her anyway.
Last night, I was blessed to get to meet Donna's mom, and hear her speak firsthand about Donna, her Good Things, and making the conscious decision to make every day a Good Day. Once you set your mind to that, it is amazing how the universe responds. Though rarely giddy or stalker-ish, I have to admit I probably freaked out Mary Tyler Mom a little. Her words have been resonating with me for six months. That must be a little weird to hear from a perfect stranger. (Expecting a restraining order soon, but that's OK.)
Monkey was there with me and, unfortunately, acting like a complete stinkbot. My envisioned introduction of my miracle child to the mom whose perspective has helped me be a better mom did uh, NOT go as planned. (I made a couple of attempts. Monkey buried her face in my shoulder and/or took off running. Nice.)
The event last night was a fundraiser for St. Baldrick's, sponsored by the Brookfield Jaycees. My dear friends are rabidly involved in that organization (and trying their hardest to get me to drink the Kool-Aid). I was there in support of a friend who volunteered to shave her head to raise money towards pediatric cancer research. The fundraiser is going towards Donna's Good Things.
Did I mention the shavee is also my bridesmaid? In the wedding? Which is 7 months away now?
When she first said she was going to shave her head I totally did the Chester Cheetah/Scooby Doo WHOA. But then she said she was doing it for Donna... And I understood.
I also donated enough to get a swipe at shaving her head and was kinda hoping to leave the AWESOME mullet we started. But she kept her word and shaved it all down.
Unfairness report: she looks good, too.
I've been reflecting a lot the past few days on seeing the signs around me. Paying attention to those tugs at the heartstrings and opening myself up to feeling their impact. It essentially comes down to letting down my guard, just a teensy little bit... which of course scares the blooming daylights out of me.
MDDaddy is relishing the fact that I am, in fact, just a person and not the invincible wonder woman I like to show people. I've let him in again, and it is a beautiful development.
The signs have been abundant lately...
Yesterday I watched the abundant glee of a beautiful golden retriever joyfully flopping on the ground, writhing around with his feet in the air. Probably soaking up squirrel piss, but still-- he was LOVING LIFE right then and it was impossible not to notice.
The calm, rational, and loving talk I had with MDDaddy this weekend regarding some of the impending life changes we're facing was another sign. How we have been blessed with the love and friendship we have found is, to me, proof of God's existence. We have a lot on our plates, and for the first time in my adult life, I KNOW... I KNOW, without shadow of a doubt, that the person by my side is fully there for me, and I for him. There is a peace in that I have never had before.
There has been a lot of loss, grief, heartache and anxiety about so many things. We are headed into spring and Easter and April and that means facing the anniversary of losing my brother. Again.
But more, and more, and more... I am feeling called to do something. To BE something. To make an impact where I am and find where I am meant to be.
It's almost like an itch I can't quite scratch.
So, I'm looking. I have a really strong feeling that ignoring so many signs would be foolish and probably a really bad idea.
The last time I felt this, THIS strongly, was when I realized my first marriage would end, and I had to decide what would be the next phase of my life. Then, I started hanging out with old friends who'd known me forever, to reconnect and remember who I was and where I'd been, in order to figure out where I wanted to go. I made the time to make my needs important again. I got a tattoo. I got, er...Monkey.
This time around, it's different. It's not just me now.
This is intended, I think, for the whole family. We're entering a journey... and folks, it's going to be epic.
All indications are it will be epically GOOD. Not easy... whatever it is, that seems clear too... but good, nonetheless.
I just wish I knew what it was.
So I am keeping my eyes open. I am letting the universe and my faith whisper to me, and hope to have my steps guided to the next thing.
There's that word again: HOPE.
Hope is a choice. Love is another.
I told Monkey this morning that the awesomest thing about this day is that we get to decide what it's going to be like. Do we want a GOOD day? Or, no?
She chose to make it a good day.
Then she wiggled her stinky toes at me and I pretended to eat them. Business as usual.
Every day, we are faced with that same choice. Within each day, as things are flung at you from the universe, you get to choose your reaction. You get to choose whether you will see these things as good or bad, and you get to choose what you take away from those interactions.
*I* for one, choose hope. *I* choose LOVE.
To modify a fun little saying: I choose to be the person my (beloved, departed) dog thought I was.
Maybe that is all it is, this calling.
Maybe that alone is going to epically change my family and life as I know it. I don't know. But it sure can't hurt... I choose to give it a try. And hope for the best.