What I Got From Claire
“I am dying; faster than everyone else”, these were the first words I heard from this remarkable young woman’s video while she shared the most beautiful smile ever! I have never seen her before. I never knew who she was, but I have heard about her condition called Cystic Fibrosis. This is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine. Yet Claire did not project that. I wanted to know more.
Her pink-colored plastic air-line tubes that ran from both sides of her face to her nose were always complimented with an angelic smile and an occasional raspy sounding voice reminding us that, “life isn't just about being happy—It's about what you're making of your life—and whether you can find a deep pride in whom you are and what you've given. When you find out that you are going to die, you want to live life slowly…you just want to enjoy it!”
For a man dealing with considerable medical conditions, these words brought a resonating echo to the depths of my human spirit. There are reminders of the balance of weighing what is on hand, versus what is expected from life itself. This is in essence what the bible defines as faith. It is to believe in what lies ahead without being able to see it. “Do not let death make decisions for you”, she added. Makes a whole lot of sense to me! “I want to be alive”, she continued. “But when you truly want something, then that opens up a huge fear of failing.”
Claire suffered a stroke after a lung transplant surgical procedure that eventually ended her life. She was only 21 years old. Records say that she died peacefully surrounded by family. But I do not consider she failed. And this is why.
I have never been exposed to such humble way of teaching. Her voice, her attitude, and her gorgeous smile while recounting her health ups-and-downs are things that will forever be with me. My father used to tell me, “no matter what you’re going through, look around, and you’ll find there is always someone worse!” Although this was obviously the case with Claire, I did not get a sense of sadness, but rather a wise schooling from a young woman documenting her last days in such a defiantly-valiant and graceful demeanor.
Her stand, her courage and the way she faced the inevitable taught me to keep my eyes open, but to actually see! To be receptive about what I hear, but to truly listen and pay attention. Claire’s eyes spoke more than her words. They lifted her spirit up in every message, and with every video. I never knew this young woman, but I thank her for her brief visit to my life. As an aspiring writer, there is only one thing I can possibly do, and that is to not only honor her battle but at the same time, to praise her life teaching triumph in my life with this small article. Claire did what most of us need to do. And that is to smile, live life fully and slowly, every day …no matter what.
Rest in peace Claire.
And thank you!
I will see you when I get there.
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