An Open Letter to My Fellow Contributors
I almost gave up. I started having seizures back to back this year. It became harder and harder to share my story because my words were no longer enough to motivate me. I stopped participating as a youth leader. I was missing planning meetings with the youth leaders. In spite of seeing many family members’ battles with cancer, I even tried smoking to get rid of the incessant nagging reality that I have epilepsy and I may never be fully independent. I almost gave up.
Earlier this month, I received a call from a vice principal at a local high school for which I’d been a substitute on several occasions. He left a voicemail inviting me to contact him back for an interview. As it turns out, I was to be subbing at his school the next day. I interviewed and was honest and vulnerable. I couldn’t stop crying during the interview because those individuals gave me a chance. When no one else would, they invited me without my having to apply for the job. They have no idea what that did for my spirit…
I was told that they were going with another candidate. I was disappointed, but encouraged at the same time, if that makes sense. I almost gave up.
I was going to write an article, but since we were talking about change and I’d yet to see it, I didn’t feel like it would be genuine. When I write, I share pieces of me and I didn’t want to put anything negative into anyone’s life because there’s enough negativity in the world already…So since I just got the news, I figured I’d share in an open letter to my contributors…
You know, sometimes, we are tested to see how we will respond. Sometimes it’s not about building our strength and character. Sometimes it’s to see are we grateful for that which we’ve been dealt. When I got the email saying they were going with another candidate, I replied and thanked Mr. Espino for the opportunity and sent my congratulations to his new employee. Several days later, I received another call while I was subbing at that same school. I went to the office and Mr. Espino, the vice principal, said that he wanted to invite me to join their team and wanted to tell me face to face. If you can imagine the ugly cry…That was me. That was about a week and a half ago. I got the formal congratulations letter from HR two days ago and I was reminded of Jimmy Valvano and his infamous words of wisdom; “Don’t give up; Don’t ever give up.”
In Stuart Scott’s 2014 ESPY speech, he said words that were buried in my heart and only resurrected as I write this letter to you. He said “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.” I can honestly tell you that I am beating epilepsy by how I live. While I may come close, I never give up. I am beating epilepsy by why I live. I am telling myself that it is not about me; someone else needs to be motivated to stand against whatever their life’s cancer may be. I am beating epilepsy by the manner in which I live. I am waking up each day. I am saying prayers of thanks for the gift of another day. I am seizing the gift of existence. That, in and of itself promotes a change in my heart from having almost given up to pressing one more day.
I implore each of you to seize the opportunity to encourage yourself and watch your world change.
Peace and Blessings,
Aria is a caring and sensitive spirit. She has been gifted with a journey unlike most and is in the process of learning and growing and healing. It is her desire that you take from this article what you need to continue your journey!