Finding the Silver Linging

Finding the Silver Lining
“ You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”
-- Henry Drummond

My entire life has been an assortment of peaks and valleys but hiking up and down them was half the battle, and half the happiness. I have been richly blessed with an abundance of opportunities on these journeys to fulfill another’s dream, nurture a soul, and make someone’s day a little brighter. By no means have I done this alone, my family and friends were there every step of the way. God’s hand was evident in everything and only through this was I able to triumph over my own personal tragedy.

At 4 weeks of age, I was diagnosed with a devastating disease called Gastroesophageal Reflux. For the first few years of my young life I was in and out of the E.R. and doctors’ offices, seeing specialist after specialist. I became personally acquainted with the nurses and staff at the hospital, they became my second family. I had an abdominal surgery at the age of 5 and then again at age 8. Throughout this traumatizing experience, my family’s faith never wavered and it was the fuel that kept me going. Now at age 15, battling Reflux continuously, I have realized that perhaps the diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. There were points where I fell into a state of self-pity because I didn’t feel like a normal kid. However, it was then that God opened my eyes and enabled me to see and feel with my heart. I saw hundreds of kids in the hospital that were terminally ill with cancer, heart disease, kidney problems and many other complications. They held more passion and joy in life then anyone on Earth that I know of. I owe them my life in return for what I have learned from these inspirational children. I have always been taught to come to God with “ faith like a child,” but I’d never understood it until then.

One such child showed me this and melted my heart instantly when I saw him. He was about 6 years old and he had leukemia. His little bald head bore the scars of his long; grueling chemotherapy treatments. He rode around the hospital floor on his little pedal bike, laughing and giggling, taunting the nurses that were chasing him. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at his young and beautiful innocence. It was when he stopped in front of me that my outlook on life was altered. He looked into my eyes and smiled at me with a big toothless grin. His eyes spoke to my heart and showed me how he longed for a normal life but every morning he woke up and knew it could be his last. Did he sit and sulk in his bed? No, he went on the hunt for his bike and unleashed his happiness, wondering why everyone else wasn’t doing the same thing.

All that I’ve been taught by these children has added to the passion I have for helping them. However, the main influence has been my mother, who co-founded a non-profit organization called P.A.G.E.R. along with another mom in Maryland (the director). Their soul mission is to promote public awareness and find a cure for reflux. I have seen the miraculous things that can be done by the power of prayer, two moms, and a lot of passion for their cause. I have been fortunate to be a part of the group such as when I personally met Senator Ted Kennedy when we got to lobby for support on Capital Hill, meet Darren Bennet ( punter for the Chargers) in the hospital and get him to be our spokesperson, and attend the annual conferences in D.C. and S.D. Also, annual walk/runs are held at Carlsbad, and with sincere humility I say that my mother started them because of inspiration from my constant battle for my health. I also helped start a kid’s section in their newsletter so I could let them know they aren’t alone, and to help and love them in the process.

Whether it be health, academics, sports, personal or professional relationships, I’ve had to muster up the courage to overcome the pain in every situation. I have been blessed to have learned to embrace every moment not waiting for what tomorrow brings, but enjoy and savor what this day has brought.

Lauren M.

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