In the last few years, my life has gotten much bigger than I ever expected.
I’ve gotten to travel to other countries. I had babies. I’ve met people whose music I’ve listened to since I was a child. I’ve traveled on a tour bus with my family, supporting my husband’s music. I’ve moved from the Midwest to the beach. I’ve had ‘famous’ people become my friends, or at least, texting buddies. And the way my current job seems to be going, that piece of my life is going to keep growing.
I don’t get it. I guess i used to dream of a big life…lots of kids, a few best-selling novels and an Oscar for Best Screenplay, a co-starring role with Patrick Swayze (in a GOOD remake of Dirty Dancing, of course). I never thought I’d actually have one. And you know, as my life has ‘grown,’ so has my perspective. Having a friend who won a Grammy isn’t any different from having a friend who hasn’t won a Grammy. And having been to South America or the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge doesn’t make my life bigger than anyone else’s.
Let me tell you about a woman I don’t know. I mean, I know her, through blogging. I wanted to meet her, but she lives in Iowa, so I should have tried to when I lived in Illinois. Her name is Sara. I discovered her blog a year ago in August. I remember the actual night, because it was the night before Rod and I left for Colombia, on a journey that made our lives bigger, and it was also the night I wrote a guest submission for incourage.me, which was accepted, making my writing reach bigger.
Sara was a regular contributor for incourage, and she was around my age, and she was homebound to the extreme because of a rare, complicated, excruciating, debilitating disease that fused her spine, weakened her lungs, destroyed her immunities, and made her allergic to even the outside air.
She has been confined go her house for much of her adult life.
And yet, her life? Is bigger than I can ever imagine mine being.
I’ve always wondered throughout my time of knowing Sara ‘how it would all go down.’ Last year, her dad died very unexpectedly, and she couldn’t be at his funeral, and I wondered how much more she could take. Turns out, it was a lot. She lived a life driven by the words CHOOSE JOY. She had none of the things most of us take for granted. She couldn’t leave her house. She couldn’t have frequent contact with people. She couldn’t eat real pizza. And she couldn’t live a single day without crippling pain. Yet, to read her words, you’d think she was Queen of the world. She exuded joy, wisdom, and hope.
Yesterday, hospice was called to her home. The irony of her last days is that she can finally be physically surrounded by love without the worry of human contact making her sicker.
The truth is that from the inside of her little condo, she has lived a bigger life than most of us can dream of living.
Without ever having laid eyes on her in person, put my arms around her, heard her laugh, or cuddled her dog Riley, I am mourning the loss of a friend today, and the loss of a light, the mind this discouraged world needs badly.
And where it has left me, and many in my bloggy-Internet-family, is blessed, heartbroken, blessed, sad, blessed, hopeful, overwhelmed with love and admiration for Sara, who chose joy.
I hope when I get HOME someday, I can watch a replay of her entry through the pearly gates. I bet her Dad is waiting. I bet she dances. I bet we all will now have another angel watching out for us, helping us to remember to choose JOY.
Know her story: Sara / Gitzen Girl