In Loving Memory

This is a guest post by my friend, Gina, who has been really supportive of my journey.  She also really loved the campaign idea and wanted to write her story and provide a picture.  I post it all below.  I hope you enjoy it what she wrote, so that you can see how special and beautiful she is.  Gina survived something awful.  Her scars are part of her and make her amazing.

I remember, ten years ago, changed the course of my life. Little did I know, at thirteen, I would have endured what most would call, unimaginable. Now my story manifests in my life as a story of encouragement and resiliency that I can’t wait to share with the next person who asks, “Where is that scar from?”

Another memory I have, a couple years following, is of a lady I met on my Make a Wish® trip. While walking beside the pool in my two-piece, she stopped me and asked if “it “saved my life. I thought for a moment, and realized she was asking about the pink rugged scar spanning the length of my belly. I seemed to have forgotten about already. I said, “Yes”, with a smile on my face. She said hers did too, and she sported a much older scar on her belly. “Then it’s beautiful, no matter what anyone says to you the rest of your life.” Her words stuck with me these last ten years. Words can impact someone’s life, and they can be beneficial or detrimental. As a child in a water park, naturally I went back to what I was doing that day, but how could I know that ten years later I’d be writing about what this lady said to me? It was only a 30 second exchange. We cannot pick and choose what people will remember, but we can certainly choose to be encouraging and pass the lessons we’ve learned along to the generation.

Today, I am not defined by the scars; I am strengthened, and have chosen to turn it into a lesson of courage and a remarkable journey that speaks volumes. I will not be remembered as the girl with the giant scar on my stomach or the girl with a scar in the middle of her chest. My legacy will be of one who has overcome the odds triumphantly. I choose not be labeled as a survivor, where my scars are just former wounds, I choose to be called a victor. My scars represent battles won. All the pain and anguish never left a name. Our perspective and what we choose to represent and bring into other’s lives is how you will be remembered. Leave a legacy of love, kindness, and forgiveness.

There are a number of kids I met in my journey who lost their lives, unable to tell their legacy. Though their lives were short, I can tell you they’ve left a bigger impact on my life than many people who are still alive. For me, I choose to represent some of the lessons these children could not to the living world. They have “forever faith”, I call it. Even though it was time to give up the fight, they were never defeated. I knew it at thirteen and I know it now. Another is their gratefulness, because they knew tomorrow was not promised. I will never forget how excited the children were for the snack cart or a blanket that was donated to them from a non-profit or a just kind person. Be grateful for the small things as well as the big things. Finally, they all smiled. Their genuine smiles are the number one thing I remember, because even when I felt it was impossible to smile, one of the kids would be smiling at me and I could not help but to smile back.

There is much more that can be learned from these kids, but these are a few of the ones I feel are important.

In loving memory of: Nija, Gregory, Casey, and Caitlin. Though you are not here, your beautiful lives, teach infinite lessons beyond the physical realm.


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