Sunday, June 17, 2007

Candy Day

This is a very happy story. This is a very sad story. Today I decided I needed to get out of my art cave. I took a shower, got dressed, and ventured out. I had a wonderful time “filling the well”. For those unfamiliar with this expression, I will explain. Today I went out to view the world, replenish my creative spirit, and refill my inspiration inventory. It was such a great day! I went to the local Pier overlooking Tampa Bay. I listened to jazz while chugging a few beers. While I was there, something sparked a thought of my late niece. I guess this memory came to the surface because I was sitting there thinking about how lucky I am to have my art life and to live in such a beautiful place! I just can’t complain. Then, I realized how life isn't always fair. Why am I so lucky and others not? I ask WHY?
My sister’s daughter was born with a heart defect. When she was a baby, her prognosis was grim. They told my sister her daughter wouldn’t live to see her teens. She struggled and had heart surgeries repeatedly. Yet despite her challenges, she was one of the most tenacious, brilliant, happy, vivacious, and hopeful human beings I have ever met.
I remember one time when she was very young (maybe 4 or 5 years old); I went to visit my sister. My niece was dragging around a lunchbox from room to room. It was a Saturday and I didn’t understand why the lunchbox(?) I asked my sister about this and she said, “Oh, it is candy day!” She went on to explain that my niece was not allowed to eat candy except for one day a week. Therefore, Saturday was always her “candy day”. I called my niece over and asked to see inside her lunchbox. She smiled a big grin and opened it. A treasure trove of sugar spilled out. There was peanut butter cups, jolly ranchers, bubble gum, you name it. It was all there! She wouldn’t finish all of it on any given Saturday. In fact, she wouldn’t eat much at all. It was just the idea that it was there if she wanted it.
I learned from that. I learned that you don’t have to have it all. I learned that life is like that. You can be happy despite the limitations. Even if you have challenges and struggles, you can have a box of goodies (your choice) to cheer you up and get you through the week. I learned that life is worth living because you can always schedule a “candy day”.
My niece died unexpectedly when she was 20 years old. All of those 20 years were filled with happiness, joy, and the purest form of wisdom. They were also filled with "Candy Days". I learned so much from this young woman. I don't even feel worthy of the gifts she gave me. Despite feeling unworthy, I treasure her life. I miss you sweetie.

Life can be strange.
It is hard not to ask WHY?

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