It's been three years since my friend Jana's life was taken from her by leukemia at the age of 21. Twenty-One. Jana touched so many lives and the ones she has affected will never be the same. Those that were closest to Jana are some of the happiest, most charitable and most motivated people that I have the pleasure of knowing and they are that way because of the memory of her. Even three years after her death, Jana is still exuding grace, beauty and strength and I know that I personally would not be in the mentally sound place I am today without her. Every time I am wheeled into the OR, put in an ambulance, or given bad news regarding my health, I think of her, and even in those moments I feel like the luckiest person alive.
The more issues I run into with my health, the more I am able to appreciate the delicacy of life. Now that the holidays are here, I feel this even more acutely. I spent Thanksgiving in a hospital bed, in pain, unable to eat or even drink water. But it was the most meaningful Thanksgiving of my life. As my beautiful husband and faithful parents sat by my bed last Thursday, all I could think of was how lucky I am that I am still here, that I still have my father after all of his health issues, that I found the most amazing man on the face of the earth that stands by my hospital bed through thick and thin and that I have a mother to go home to to nurse me back to health.
I have also been so lucky to have so many friends and family come to visit in the hospital and here at home as I recover yet again. It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when you have a support system the size of the Third Reich (although mine is much more well-meaning). And now that it's almost Christmas time I want to ask those closest to me for the most meaningful present I could possibly ask for. Take care of yourself and cherish what you have. Change what you can. Accept what you can't. I hate seeing people watch my pain and then walk back to poisonous lifestyles. This Christmas, I want more than anything for my pain to not be in vain. Let's turn it into something beautiful; a gift like the one Jana has given to so many others. Perche la vita dovrebbe essere bella. (Because life should be beautiful).