Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Big 3-"Oh! What a Ride!"

On the eve of my thirtieth birthday . . .

To My Family:

As an English major, a sometimes speaker, and a sort of writer, I'd like to believe that there are words for every experience, and for every emotion. What can I say to all you then but this: thank you, ever and always, for proving me wrong. Some things -- some people -- are quite simply beyond all words.

All of you are, individually and collectively, the most amazing, most inspiring, wisest, kindest, and funniest people I know. Thank you for the jokes that you have told, the strength that you have shown, and the love that you have given so freely and unconditionally. When asked recently what small advice I could offer to a new family struggling to raise a child with CF, I replied with the simple truth that I have learned from a lifetime spent watching all of you: that if we can all be proud of one another in our successes, and still manage to believe in each other in our failures, then we can move mountains -- even if it isn't always easy.

Most of all, thank you for making each and every day for the past three decades a gift and a privilege and a life worth fighting for. You taught me to to wonder, to ask, to explore, and to act. And then you taught me how to do it in style.

I admire you.
I love you.

I breathe you.

To My Friends:

A very smart guy once told me that, if given the choice, he'd rather collect friends than years in his lifetime. And as I approach thirty years of those wonderful, magical things called friendships, I think I'm finally able to appreciate what he meant. Because years themselves in exclusivity are hardly worth noticing. It's the people you meet in the minutes and the hours -- the ones who help you fill the days -- that truly matter.

Each and every one of you, whether you've been a part of my life for twenty-plus years or twenty-plus minutes, is a reason to smile. I'm so beyond grateful for the privilege of meeting y'all, for the chance to share in everything from late-night sleepovers to college-age drama to present-day, well . . . adventures.

It's been a hell of a ride so far, guys, and all the more so for having you each along for it. For all the extra years in my life now, however long that might be, I'm most excited for the chance to keep on sharing them with you.

To My Doctors, Past and Present:

I'm not quite sure how to go about thanking a group with which I've had such a complicated relationship. We've certainly been through a lot together, after all. Like a good made-for-TV movie, y'all have made me laugh, you've made me cry, you've made me roll my eyes, and you've made me want to simply walk away. Most importantly though, you've been the reason, more than anything, that I am able to believe in happily ever after. So here it is, after thirty years of sarcasm, challenge, and maybe just a hint of well-deserved teasing: thank you.

Thank you for the procedures and the medicines and the appointments that I never really wanted to go to until I needed them, and then they couldn't happen fast enough. Thanks for being patient with a sometimes impatient patient who admittedly hates to go in-patient. Thanks for talking to me and, even more so, for listening to me. Thanks for giving the best advice you knew to give, even when I didn't want to hear it. Thanks for not believing my bullshit. Thanks more than anything for always believing my truth. Thanks for admitting when you've been wrong and thanks for never rubbing it in my face when I was. Thanks for locking me up, for letting me go, and thanks, most of all, for never losing sight of my humanity -- or for allowing me to lose sight of myself.

Thank you, in short, for everything.

To The CFF:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. No, seriously guys: THANK YOU.

And last but not least . . .

To My Beloved Donor Bob:

So here we are about to turn thirty, dude. It's weird enough to do it once, so I can't imagine what it must be like to do it twice. But then again, you've always seemed to me to be exceptional. And believe me, I don't say that often about someone whom, when truth be told, I've never even met.

I think it was Aristotle who once said that true friendship is a single soul in two bodies. A single mind inhabiting two lives. It's easy to see why he said this -- the deep bond that comes from shared purpose, shared experience, and shared emotion across two lives and two existences is, without a doubt, a special thing. And finding other people with whom to share your life is, undeniably, an act worthy of even the most flowery language and classical, philosophical cliches.

But what about two entirely separate souls who meet somehow, through fate or God or just the sheer force of human kindness (to the extent we believe, of course, that those are separate things at all), and merge together to support one body? What of the moment when two purposes, two sets of experiences, two lifetime's worth of emotions, meet to engage in the single bodily act of existence -- to continue one life through the graciousness of another? What then, Aristotle? What's your fancy Greek metaphor for THAT awesomeness, huh?

Donor Bob, we may never meet in the traditional sense -- may never share a laugh or a handshake or even just a casual passing smile on the street -- but I promise from here on out to share my life, my body, and my existence with you, just as you have shared so willingly with me. I promise to think on you often, to live by your example of kindness (especially to strangers, which is always harder), and to laugh as much as I can for both of us. I promise to always be grateful for your gift without forgetting that I was, am, and will always be, a life worth saving. I promise to relax into our shared complexity as much as possible, and to spend as much time as I can in living, and not just in existing. You are not my soul, you are not my body, but you are, and always will be, my friend.

With love, thanks, and million moments left to go for all of you, beautiful people.



  1. Happy birthday to you, Piper. I love reading your thoughts. Your are an inspiration to so many.

  2. Great blog Piper! When I turned 30 earlier this year I had quite an "ah ha" moment when I realized that I had reached a major CF milestone. It is such a great moment, so enjoy yourself and all the wonderful things you have in your life :)

  3. Great post and Happy 30th!

  4. Wow Piper! You have an amazing way of reflecting your thoughts and emotions. Comprehending what we have gone through is beyond words, but you do an amazing job of trying. Aristotle and Plato for that matter, probably never expected man to have to comprehend your example. Modern science once again will foster the growth of human thought. You do an amazing job sparking that flame in our existence.