Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Stella
Posted by Mishi Methven on Mar 20, 2012
Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Stella
There is a famous piece of writing called, "Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten". Here are the things the author says he learned:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don't hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don't take things that aren't yours.
- Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Although I think this is an extremely well-written piece, I don't remember kindergarten and Stella is not going to get to go there, so I've needed to change the lessons a bit to make them more true to my own life experiences. The funny thing is, every time I think Stella has taught me all there is to learn, she teaches me something more.
So… this is titled, All I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Stella (so far…)
- Sometimes a hug is all you need.
- It's okay to need help to stand on your own two feet.
- Take lots of naps.
- Laugh a lot, especially when the people around you don't know what's so funny.
- The world is an amazing place--- don't be afraid to rediscover what you love each day.
- Keep your comfort items nearby.
- People will follow your lead--- if you smile, laugh or act silly, so will those around you.
- Time is everything, but also nothing.
- Sometimes it's better to be early. Sometimes it's better to be late. Sometimes it's better not to go at all.
- Try not to bite people, but if you do make sure to smile when you're done so they think you were just kidding.
- Don't fake it, be true to yourself and own who you are--- even if you shock a few people in the process.
- Lack of language does not preclude lack of comprehension.
- Someday you may find yourself doing things you said you would NEVER do.
- Even the bad things that happen teach you things. Sometimes, especially the bad things.
- Just because you can't walk, doesn't mean you can't dance.
This Friday is exactly 9 months since Stella was diagnosed. 9 months is the average that children with DIPG live (children who have undergone treatment). As of Friday, Stella will be living longer than "average" for children with this type of brainstem tumour. It's a strange position to be in, as now I feel like every single day after this point is a special gift from the Universe. Although, with Stella not undergoing treatment, the Doctors told us 3-4 months from diagnosis, which Stella has long passed by now so we have already had so much more than anticipated. But forever wouldn't even be enough.
I would do anything to keep Stella from dying. I would gladly die myself, I would happily sell everything I own and live under a bridge for the duration, I would take her pain times ten and smile through it. But nothing I can do or say makes any kind of difference. Aimee and I are helpless in the face of this disease, so the only choice we have--- the only choice thousands of parents whose children are dying around the world have--- is to make the most of the time we have left. We set out on this journey expecting to give Stella the world, but we have been surprised to find out that it is her who continues to give to us. She gives us her love, her smiles, her wisdom and her incredible ability to adapt. She has given Aimee and I a new understanding of ourselves, each other, our marriage, our hopes and dreams for the future. She gives the world a reason to get a little smaller and to come together to remind us of the power of community. She makes us proud to be her parents.
Aimee and I have learned that life is much sweeter, if we just take Stella's lead on things. If we don't limit her with our own narrow views of what she "can" or "can't" do. All you need to do is view the pictures below, illustrating some of the things Stella has done this past week, to realize her understanding of living life far exceeds my own. I am in complete awe of my daughter, and I wonder if Sam will think I'm a better parent because Stella has taught me about the kind of person I want to become. I hope so.
I know there are still many hard times ahead for Stella and Aimee and Sam and I. I know that my heart will break, the tears will fall, the darkness will come. But I am going to bed tonight with the hope that whenever I feel most like I can't go on, I will remember how Stella laughed as Aimee held her and twirled around the room this afternoon "dancing" to Raffi, and find the courage to live by her example.
To laugh with abandon, love only those who earn it, and dance in the middle of the day whenever I feel like it.
Painting with Gracie on the weekend:
Playing on the Slide:
Helping Mommy cook dinner:
Laughing in the Playhouse with Poppa:
Playing with "Dr." Flora in the Basement:
People are like stained - glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed, only if there is a light from within.