Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just Imagine

'Twas the holiday season
December was here
The streets filled with the bustle
Of holiday cheer

But like any good season
It also brought tears
Some are fighting new battles
And facing new fears

Some are launching new efforts
To make themselves heard
To change laws, to find justice,
Or just spread the word

Of the beautiful people
Who fight through it all
For whom life is a blessing
No gift is too small

For people like all of us
Like you and like me
Those who know there's no limits
To what we can be

Because we are the heart of
This whole crazy deal
All the money and new drugs
Affect how WE feel

So all I want for Christmas
For you and for me
Is a present that can't just
Fit under a tree

It won't come from the North Pole
Or deer who can fly
Or a break in at midnight
From some fat old guy

Just believe in your power
To make this thing right
You can help make a difference
And tell CF goodnight!

Dear friends, family, and loved ones:

Happy holidays!

I have to admit that I always struggle a bit about what to say in these sort of "milestone" messages. It's always tough to sum up an entire year in a few paragraphs, particularly when your life for the past few of them has been a constant roller coaster of thrilling highs and some serious drops. And this year, somehow, feels even more poignant to me for some reason -- more so than the years I spent trying to pretend that I wasn't getting sicker, or the near-year I spent on the transplant list updating you on my precarious health. It feels more poignant, even, than the last Christmas message I sent out into the world, announcing my first ever celebration of this beautiful season with my beloved Donor Bob. And to help you understand exactly what I mean by that, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me on a little holiday journey. So close your eyes and hold on tight, guys, 'cause I'm not sure this sleigh has seat belts.

It's because that this year was all about my friends.

Imagine sitting down to write Christmas cards and realizing that, at this time in 2009, yourself and nine of your closest CF friends in the city were all facing serious, potentially fatal health issues. Imagine that every single one of you was or would be in need, within the next two years, of a new organ. Imagine that for three of you, it would be your second transplant. Imagine that every single member of your group was either in their 20s or 30s, and all but one was under 35. Imagine that seven out of the nine of you (yourself included) spent most of your time connected to an oxygen tank. Imagine that in this group were two parents of young children, a nurse, a lawyer, a teacher, a social worker, two older sisters to brothers who also have CF, and one who had already lost a beloved sibling to this terrible disease. Imagine that all of you, from various walks of life and various backgrounds, had three things in common that bonded you forever: your disease, your hospital, and your collective decision to live your life the best you could despite it all.

Now imagine yourself today. Imagine looking out your window, past a glowing Christmas tree, and snuggling your puppy closer as you take a sip of tea and reach for your stack of Christmas cards. Imagine lifting up your pen, preparing to write, and taking a grateful, deep breath of delicious air. Imagine knowing that you could do that only because of an anonymous donor and his wonderful family's decision to give you his lungs.

Imagine how grateful you would feel toward the heroes (yes, it was a team effort) who saved your life.

And imagine that for your group of ten close friends, all sharing the same disease and the same hope for the future, there had been six such life saving transplants in the past two years. Twenty-four short months that brought with it six transplants. Imagine that two of your friends were leaving the hospital that very day, that they would be home for Christmas along with four of the rest of you who now were, collectively, the proud recipients of five sets of new lungs and one kidney. Imagine that one more of your friends would also be home and enjoying Christmas with his wife and two wonderful sons -- and his oxygen concentrator. And imagine that, come the new year, all six of you would make plans to go together to visit the other three, no longer in this world but still so very much a part of it.

Imagine they were heroes too.

Now imagine yourself back wherever you are this holiday season. Open your eyes and look around you at all that you have, all that this world is, and all the blessings that are out there every single day.

And imagine we could do better.

This holiday season, please take a moment to give a true gift to yourself and to the world. I honestly don't care HOW you do it, but I promised myself, my friends, and my donor that I would ask you to do SOMETHING. There are so many ways to get involved, so many problems to be solved, and so many answers that I know are out there -- we just have to stand up and let the world know we have them. And if you're looking for inspiration on this, you might want to start with the CFF (there's ways to get involved that don't require any money!), or with my friend Josh and his crazy puppet friend over at Welcome to Joshland and The Moganko Project, or maybe just in your own community and with the world right outside your front door. Because what my life, my family, my friends, and my donor have taught me again and again is that every single one us, no matter how sick or how wealthy or how old or how wise, can make a difference. Every single one of us can find some way, some tiny act or little gift, that can make us into the hero we've always wanted to be.

Imagine that.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Blessed Season full of love and light to all of you, everywhere.



  1. Love it. Love Donor Bob. Love you!!!

  2. Beautiful!!! Merry Christmas Piper!
    Warm Regards,
    Joann Feeney (Jerry's sister in law!)

  3. Can I borrow your poem pretty please??!?!?!?!?!? :)

    Actually I am just gonna link this whole blog post lol


  4. Beautiful. Love the entire post. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. :)

  5. Just an update from me to all my beautiful breathheads: the final member of the group this post centers on received his transplant on Dec 24 -- Christmas eve and 2 days after this post was written. He is in the icu recovering now. Thank you for all of your light and prayers, if there were ever proof that they work, this is it!