Here’s a story about three, great kids (check that — three, great, young adults). This story is about my step-kids; more specifically about something amazing they did for me this holiday season.
Joe, who will turn 20 in a few weeks, is a sophomore at Green Mountain College in Vermont where he’s obtaining a bachelor’s degree in ski resort and business management. He hasn’t been able to come home since summer. His school requires that he stay over the Christmas holidays because it’s the busiest time of the year for Killington Resort. Plus, Joe’s one of the most requested ski instructors at the Resort. He’s where he longs to be, where he’s the happiest, and we support him in that. As I look back over the last month, I can’t imagine what it was like for him — being away and unable to come home during a family crisis, having to get periodic updates from his younger sister, and being so far away that he felt as if he couldn’t help out in the process.
Kim, who’s 18 and in the middle of her first “authentic” year of college at Gannon University (she actually finished most of her first year college classes while still a senior in high school– yes, pretty impressive), had a front row seat during my whole diagnosis ordeal. She arrived at the ER just after we found out I didn’t have a brain tumor, but three long days before we found out what was really wrong. Other than going to class or going back to her apartment to catch some sleep, Kim was with me from sun-up to sun-down. She asked that I text-message her as soon as I received my diagnosis, no matter what it was. I did as she asked, and at 7 AM on Dx-day, putting my best “I’m not worried at all” face forward, sent a text that read: “Sweetie, I found out that it really is M.S., but it’s going to be just fine.” She later said she could “hear me crying through the text message” and that made her rush to hospital to be at my side immediately. She was spared nothing, and asked for so little in return.
Then there’s Kerri Elizabeth, soon-to-be sweet 16. We chose to spare her everything; at least until we knew for certain what was wrong. Kerri’s had a tough year — she lost two of her three beloved dogs, her great-grandmother passed away, her brother didn’t make it home for the holidays and her big sister went off to college. Then, her step-mom ended up with M.S. There’s really only so much emotional turmoil a teenager can handle in just one year. Yet, when she found out I was sick, Kerri took on a new role in our family — Mother Hen. She worries about me constantly; text-messages me frequently to check on how I’m feeling; kisses and hugs me just a little bit more, just a little bit tighter; and has taken to finding the lyrics to songs that represent she and me — what we’re calling “our songs.” On Christmas Eve, right in the middle of a huge Fabrizio-bash, she sat, curled up on a couch with me — for the longest time — forgetting that’s she’s almost 16 and it’s not necessarily “cool” to curl up with a parent in public anymore. She let me stroke her hair and we just sat there — together. She’s my sweet, special girl.
Now, put the three of these great human beings together and what do you get? The best, most thoughtful, Christmas present of all time. These are poor college and high school students. Yet, after doing some research, they pooled their resources and bought me something they hope will help me feel just a little better.
After reading my blog posting, Ironic Sunshine, earlier this month, where I described that the lack of access to sunshine is thought to be a possible contributor to the cause of my disease, and the irony that sunshine produces intense heat, which once diagnosed, can cause an M.S. patient to enter a relapse, the kids went to work. They researched some other way that I could have access to all the positive benefits of the sun, without its harmful effects. The result: Living Sunshine.
This four-pound light unit, simulates the sunshine and is perfect for people who have limited access to the sun’s rays. For 20-30 minutes a day, I sit at my desk in my home office (that’s normally dark and void of any external light) and I soak up the rays of the Living Sunshine. The rays enter into my noggin through my retinas. Like a plant, living in a closet, I am deprived of sunshine. I often get to work as the sun has just risen, and it sets on my way home. I work in an office all day, so when we’re fortunate enough to see a little sunshine, I only see it through my window. A body, deprived of sunshine, begins to feel its negative effects.
My kids, each searching and seeking for their own way to help in this life-changing situation, have found a practical solution for making me feel better. Will it cure my M.S.? No. But each time I look at my Living Sunshine, I know that my family loved me enough to select this special product to enhance my well-being. I’m certain the Living Sunshine will enhance my mood, make me feel brighter and happier, and who knows? Maybe it may even help to heal my wounded brain.
The important lesson here, folks, is that no matter their ages, your children need to feel useful. They need to feel as if they can make a difference, as if they can help you. Let your children, in age-appropriate ways, help you. Sure, my first reaction was to want to scold them for spending their hard-earned money on me. But, I refrained and accepted the gift graciously, knowing (or hoping) that maybe this will help each of them in some way, too.
If you’re interested in learning more about Living Sunshine, contact distributor Chris Boucher via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.