Monday, December 05, 2005

Message from Olivia (an angel)

Today's post is a downer. And an upper. If you don't want to ride on a rollercoaster today, click on another blog please. Last warning.

Today is about something of substance. Something that really matters. Something from someone else, actually. From the family of a little girl who lost her struggle with cancer last year.

I have seen a bunch of adults whine about "she said this" and "he said that." Heck, on Thursday's post, I talked about not being able to have children right now. Boohoo, cry me a river. Wallowing in self-pity seems too comfortable right now.

In early October 2004, Olivia and her family were given a diagnisis: diffused pontine glioma. Sounds Greek to me. Actually, it is probably Latin. What is means to this family is that Olivia's prognosis was not good – three to twelve months to live because of a type of brain cancer. She was lifted to heaven by the grace of God on November 18, 2004. I don't do death well, I never have. I just say the most awkward things – I hope this did not sound that way.

She had a party on November 13, 2004, and she died less than a week later. Don't cry for this sweet girl – I have cried enough for her the last few days. I did not know the family, did not know anyone associated with her. But I weep for this child.

Wendy, Olivia's mother, will be in the Dr. Phil audience on December 8 (not sure if it will be about her or about others). Wait, I am missing the point. The point is not for me to tell you this story or to cry, or to whatever. The point is that Wendy or Olivia – who knows where one person ends and another begins sometimes – has a message. And this message is nice, not new, but nice. And being original is not all that important - its how it changes your part of the world.

Their page is here, if you want to learn more about them. Their message is like that movie, Pay It Forward. It is easy – do something nice, very nice – for someone and when they ask what they can do in return, grin and say, "Do something nice for someone else." Little do they know that they have already repaid the debt in how you feel. It is a simple formula.

And here is the wonderful part – you do something wonderful for someone else, you feel good (more happiness in the world), they feel good (again, more happiness in the world), and if they do something for someone else (still, more happiness in the world). We think of things as finite – only so many pieces of the pie are available to be had. Better get me mine before you get my piece. I don't think the world works like that. I think we can bake more pies.

Guess who just placed herself on the bone marrow transplant registry? Peace, in this giving season. Do something nice for someone you don't know - or it you really want to grow, do something nice for someone you hate.

Oh and visit Olivia's site - you can even get materials for paying it forward. I have spent many days going through Caring Bridge pages - some couragious people.


Long Iron said...

Every time I hear about a child dying way before they have ever had a chance to live, always leaves a fresh scar on my heart. Thank you Leesa, for sharing this post so we are at least able to have the opportunity to share a few moments of Olivia's too short life. I agree, we all should "Pay it forward".

;phil; said...

I lost two people I knew about 2 weeks ago to cancer. One woman I worked with and had battled it for 7 years or so, and the other was the 11 year old daughter of a friend of my wife's from high school. She had fought brain cancer for 5 years. I'm dealing with my own cancer for the past 22 months or so and I always thank God that my kids didn't get sick and it was me. I'm not thrilled to have it and I felt bad fo the woman I worked with, but kids really don't deserve it at all.
I have been trying to practice Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) for a while now. It's ranged from buying a sandwich for a homeless guy, to paying busfare in the city for some woman. It's amazing how something so simple can make someone's day.

Doublebogie said...

My wife lost her mother almost 2 years ago to a fatal hit & run accident.
My father in law, my son, and his friend were also in the car. My mother in law landed on my son's lap, dying in his arms. He was 11 at the time, something a young boy should NEVER have to expeience.
I was beside myself with pain for my son, my wife and everyone else involved. There was nothing I could do for any of them except be there and be strong for them.
The man who committed this horific crime was only charged with 1 and 1/3 to 4 years incarceration because he fled the scene and couldn't be charged with being under the influence.
Ultimately, I found out that there was legislation on the books in our state to change this sentence to a slightly more substantial penalty. I felt I had to persue this action myself, or at least try to help in some way. I lobbied at the state capitol for a year, contacting every 150 members of the assembly and had the opportunity to meet with many of them.
On June, 16th of this year I was sitting in the assembly chamber and witnessed the passing of every "dangerous driver" bill that had made it to the floor to be voted on. The Assemblyman who drafted the bill stood and addressed the entire assembly after the vote was unanamous. He mentioned my family and gave other examples of why this bill was so important to be passed and how it would give at least a slight bit more solace to other families that might have to endure tragedies such as this in the future.
I couldn't keep the water from welling in my eyes. I tipped my head in gracious thanks to him.
On Jan, 23 of this year this new bill will become law!
It wasn't much that I did but I felt like I contributed in some small way. My appreciation goes to our assembly for staying the course to see these legislations through.
"Paying it forward" was a fabulous movie and a fantastic formula for hope and peace in the world.
My hat is off to Wendy for having the courage to continue her work!

kathi said...

Lost my best friend, Sharon, to leukemia when she couldn't find a donor (bone marrow) to match. Thanks for doing this Leesa. Doesn't surprise me that you would, or that you'd have this reaction. You've got a great heart.
Thanks for letting everyone know about this and encouraging others by setting an example.

Prata said...

The infinite is the finite of each instance. -Zen Quote

Though death is sad to those who experience the death of a loved one, it is also the summation of the human condition. We are all going to die. That is what humans is something we must accept.

Life (as in the condition of having lived and being alive) is quite fair. People, however..are not quite so. Everyone gets a chance at life..and everyone dies. The choices (fair or unfair) of others are what terminate the balance in life and death at times..I guess again that is the human inflict our will upon others...with..or without thought of those consequences in total.

Slut Betty said...

Thank you for sharing Leesa!
I lost my father 4 years ago *shakes head* (it's a long story) but he was dignosed with cancer about 3 months before he passed.

Grant said...

Whenever I start to get wrapped up in my own misery, I remember something that happened to me a few years ago. I was having a lot of financial troubles when my transmission died, forcing me to rent a car. I sat cold and shivering at a traffic light in the rain, wondering how I was going to pay for everything, thinking about how I had no money and no time since I was leaving work to go to night school, and just generally feeling miserable about life. While I sat there waiting for the heater to warm up, a man on crutches passed through my headlights. He had no coat, no umbrella, and the left leg of his military fatigues were tied off just below his hip in place of where his leg had been. Anytime I start to feel sorry for myself, I remember him.

Bert Ford said...


Just to remind everybody, it only takes a minute to fill out an organ donor card.

Georgiapeach said...

I love Grant's philosphy. I try to carry that attitude as well.

Leesa, thanks so much for educating me about this site. I enjoy, no I love doing things for others. Call me neive, but it is something that I can't help. It is in my heart. I get so wrapped in others I forget about about myself. But I think that is how it should be. However, there is so much more I can be doing.

I am also an organ donor.

Canadian I am sorry to hear about your father. I hope they find a cure for cancer really soon because this is ridiculous.

Prata said...


So wrapped up in others you forget about yourself? I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing. How can you help others if you can not help yourself? So on and so forth, self must be honed before great things can come to others from your own actions. Of course I'm speaking in extremes again hehe)

mal said...

I can see why you had an emotional time writing this one *S*

Pay forward is a wonderful concept. The idea has been around in many guises for a long time and yet is so seldom practiced. The kindnesses we do (and recieve) have surprising consequences. It is something I need to work harder to do.

mal said...

I can see why you had an emotional time writing this one *S*

Pay forward is a wonderful concept. The idea has been around in many guises for a long time and yet is so seldom practiced. The kindnesses we do (and recieve) have surprising consequences. It is something I need to work harder to do.