Last week when I was watching Stephanie Nielson (NieNie) on Oprah my heart was absolutely filled to the point of bursting. Anyone who saw the segment knows exactly what I mean, I'm sure of it. I was touched. My eyes filled with tears as I watched Stephanie take the stage, as Mr Nielson watched her, as her family spoke. The whole thing was an absolute blessing to behold. I watched it with Stuart who also choked back tears of love, admiration and pride for Stephanie and her family. You can see a clip here and read Oprah's blurb here.
I was texting Wendy (who is responsible for the Nielson's family portraits) through it. I told her I was struggling holding back the tears and her reply was, "Don't cry - she's terrific!" and cry no more I did. Mostly the tears were of the feeling of love and triumph. What a wonderful example, what a wonderful woman who has been raised by wonderful parents and has such an amazing family.
I've had the opportunity to partake of the humour and spice of Stephanie's wonderful sister, Courtney (C Jane) and I'll admit right now I adore. I've proclaimed my love for her too and she's accepted and returned it - not returned my love but returned my adoration with her own love... uuuh... Courtney was our first Very Special Guest on The Gypsy Feet.
As the images from the tele filled my mind I caught visions of my own family pulling together through tough times. Life has never been really easy for The Stronach's. Times have been super hard and quite consistently too but mostly times have also been very very good. The memories... Right now times are hard and not very good. The truth of the situation is that life can down right suck. It can suck so hard that you feel like your eyes are going to explode and some mornings you wake up wondering why you didn't just leave this earthly phase in your sleep BUT the other side of the coin is the shiny, sparkly side.
The part on Oprah where Stephanie's family said how they were faced with the decision of weither to let her go peacefully or cling to the hope that she would get better and be happy with her new life. Stephanie then said that she had to make the choice for herself whilst in the coma. It was an easy choice for her. She wanted to be with her family. The end.
The other side of that miserable coin for me right now is that I have parents who love me. Parents who love all of my brothers and sisters and our spouses and children even when we do things they'd rather we didn't. I have a home in Scotland where the door is always open - as it is for my brothers and sisters and our friends and anyone who needs a meal or bed to sleep in or somewhere to wash their clothes or even just a hug. Parents who encourage us and would do anything for us. Through the last year I'd say I've grown closer to four out of five of my siblings and I pray harder for that one I can't get close to.
Today a testimony was borne in church that made me realise something important and quite profound. I'm about to get religious so if you don't care for that you can skidaddle:
Christ atoned for our sins. He suffered for us. He suffered for us and he did it willingly. Christ suffered so much pain I can't even imagine and I'm responsible for some of it. He died for us an excruciating death. He suffered and died and doesn't hold a grudge. He did it because he loves us. He doesn't hold a grudge!
If Jesus doesn't hold a grudge against me for the stupid things I've done that take me off the path that he's set for me by suffering and dying for me then I'm certainly not going to take my time when it comes to forgiving people.
I want things to be different but there's nothing I can do to change them. I'm ready and willing for them to change. My arms are open, ready to hold on to that little sister that doesn't want me right now. Do your worst (except don't), I'm never going to hate you and I'll always be here waiting even if it takes eternity. That's the way I've been taught. I love you. Forgive me of anything I've done that's hurt or upset you. I would never do that on purpose. I think you know that.
Life doesn't have to be as hard as we make it and I pray to God that we don't need a tragedy to make us behave more like family but I've seen it for myself, people survive tragedies.
"Life is only as good as the memories we make..."