Sunday, October 16, 2011

And I'll Remember You...

written by Stephie Goldfish

This poem is dedicated to one of my doctors who recently moved away to be closer to her children and to move on in her own spiritual journey of life. She is a wonderful person, dedicated doctor, and devoted mother. In the 3 1/2 years that I got to meet with her, she helped me in a way that words can't express, but I wrote this poem about her to try to convey my gratitude.

I'll remember you,

And other silly things that remind me of you:

Like White Grand Cherokee Jeeps.

And Ice-Cream Cones at the Dairy-Queen in Cary.

Roses blooming at The Raleigh Little Theatre Garden.

And Lotus Openings.

Beautiful Pedicures in the Cold of Winter.

And a Safe Haven to Share My Deepest Thoughts.

Birds in the Windows Sitting, Singing, and Listening.

And Guardian Angels as Tall as the Empire State Building.

Psychology Today Magazines.

And The Road Less Traveled.

Calm Breathing.

And Big Blue Eyes.

Laughter of Children Playing Outside.

And the Silence of Unspoken Words.

A Mother's Love for Her Son and Daughter.

And Compassion and Empathy for Her Patients.

Tears Flowing Down.

And Hearts Lifted Up.


And... Independence.

In my therapy, I've searched for a feeling of home. At times I thought I had that, but when I met her, I felt like I had come full circle. She showed me symbolically and literally what a Mother's Embrace should and could feel like. She put her arms around me and I am home.

Photo credits:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In the Face of Death, Follow Your Heart

written by Stephie Goldfish

“Almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” ~Steve Jobs

Three years from turning thirty, I came to an awakening about my life—where I had been, where I was at that moment in time, and where I was headed. It all hit me like a head-on collision. I’ve never been the same since. I wondered, at that time, why now, and not then?

I mean, hearing the news about my congenital heart disease at age 17 should have been enough in itself to cause me to bow down and not want to go for my dreams. Then, it wasn’t so much a feeling like my life was over; instead, more a feeling of being vindicated after all those years of wondering what was wrong with me.

What the medical team said to me then was that I would know my limitations. They said that I should be able to go on to art school, since being an artist isn’t as strenuous as being a doctor, marathon runner, or construction worker. They also said that I could die instantly, in my 20s, 30s, 40s, or later. They didn’t know, but they said usually people with my specific congenital heart defect might begin to experience more problems in their late 20s to early 30s.

With all of this in the back of my mind, my twin sister (also a very talented artist) and I went on to art school in Pittsburgh. I had begun receiving a small SSI check and I got help with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in Pittsburgh to attend school. The amazing thing was they provided transportation to and from school each day. They let my sister ride with me as I needed help some days carrying the heavy artist’s portfolio.

It wasn’t easy, but we both graduated at the top of our class. We followed our hearts to New York City where we began working in computer graphics.

Life has a way of creeping up on you and before I knew it I was in my late 20s—almost 27 years old. Maybe I had subconsciously known I was heading into that time of life when the doctors said things “might” start getting bad. Call it prophetic or whatever, but I just broke down emotionally. I began to fear dying. I felt the urgency of death and felt the fragility of life.

I still do.

I am 46 years old now, almost three decades after my diagnosis. I still struggle with feelings of failure and lost hopes and dreams. But what I’ve learned is that you can’t live life worrying about whether you’ll be here tomorrow, next week, or next year. I’m learning to live in the moment.

I’d like to say to those who are struggling with life and their CHD: Live life and love life to the fullest. Follow your heart and it will lead you through the many seasons of life.

As a tribute to Steve Jobs, and to everyone facing death, I am reposting this article. This was originally posted on August 30, 2011 over at the Adult Congenital Heart Association's new blog.

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