Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lessons in Life....... From a Two Year Old

I believe the majority of people live their lives under the radar, lying low, hiding their heads in the sand to try and avoid as much pain and conflict as they can. I would include myself in this category a considerable amount of the time.

But, interestingly, it is the condition of pain and suffering that can make us evaluate who we are, what we are doing and what we really want out of life. What would you do given a choice between voluntarily suffering some discomfort for a greater revelation or turning the other cheek to keep sleepwalking your way through life as painlessly as possible?

The other day I was given this opportunity by reading the daily journal of a New Zealand mother, Shanell Christian, as she supports her two year old daughter, Kyah, in her last days of Kyah's battle with terminal cancer. I also shared it with several work colleagues who I thought might like to read it. Whilst I do not know the reactions of all the people I sent it to, I do know that two of them opted to turn the other cheek because of the potential pain it would cause them and one thought that it was the private journey of someone else that she didn’t need to be a party to.

When I first started reading the journal for several days afterwards the tears flowed uncontrollably. This wasn't my child and yet the pain I was feeling whilst reading these journal entries was hideous. I have a daughter of a similar age and it was all too easy to imagine the pain and heartache I would be feeling if that were my child. I considered not reading the journal anymore as I knew it would be so hard when Kyah passed away and it seemed this would be sooner rather than later.

Then as the days passed my grief moved to admiration for Shanell as she shared her highs and lows and I wondered if I could be as strong. And then came the gratefulness - seeing someone's pain and getting a tiny glimmer of what it must feel like started making me even more grateful for my three year old. Her temper tantrums, the running around the house creating a path of destruction, the change of clothes three or four times a day, chattering away about when she is a big girl and goes to school. I was grateful for the what she has now, for what she will have and what she has been. Through the pain of reading about Kyah's journey I was embarking on a journey myself of gratefulness and an opporunity to live life with my children more in the here, more in the now.

My husband told me he was tired of me talking about Kyah but I am grateful to her and her brave family for sharing such heart wrenching, private thoughts. Many of the comments posted in response to the journal have discussed how they are more grateful for their own kids, how they hug them that much tighter and give one more kiss at night. Soon, those actions won't be an option for Kyah and her family. Memories will be what they hold close to them.

Break out of your comfort zone, allow some discomfort and pain in as when you come through the other side you are never the same person and it is your choice whether that is for the better or the worse.

I urge you to read Kyah's journey - it will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it will humble and inspire you. Her spirit and spunk shines through a short life filled with so much pain and those qualities are something we should all aspire to.