I’ve been thinking about how to word this message for the past few days. My cousin is someone I’ve had the privilege of, not only being related to, but also knowing, as she is a remarkable human being. If you did not know her story, and you just encountered her for a little while, you couldn’t help but feel the warm radiance and loving, kind glow that comes from interactions with her. Her bright smile, positive disposition, open-heartedness, and keen observations are true and genuine qualities she has had since she was a little girl. But, if you have read her blogs and gotten to know her trials, you have just a glimpse of what exactly she has had to overcome and how she has done so by staying true to herself and while being kind and compassionate towards others.

I happened to have been in that accident with her and her mother, which started the chain of events. I remember coming out unscathed and grateful that nothing happened to us after that fateful event. When I heard she was in physical therapy, I was surprised but unconcerned. Whenever we talked about therapy (usually during the commercial breaks of Golden Girls re-runs, which we both loved to watch back in the day), she seemed to enjoy going. Later, she told me that she in fact had scoliosis and things were graver than originally suspected. Keeping in mind that I was only a couple of years older than her, I didn’t think much of the prognosis at first. What was scoliosis? How could I really understand the weight of such a condition when she remained her chipper optimistic self.

But, then came the operation. Or rather, I should say, post-operation. And, that was the first time I saw how much pain she was really in. It was heartbreaking. It was SOOO difficult to watch a person who always looked at the upside of life, have to look at pain-torturous pain-in the face. I remember the X-rays of the before…almost a complete S for what should be a straight spine. I remember the X-rays after…where you could see the metal and screws that had been placed inside this young body. I remember the long periods of stillness she had to endure. The difficulty eating, getting dressed, going to the bathroom. I remember all these things I hadn’t thought about it and it becomes difficult to write this message and it takes me a few days to sit down and send it.

These are thoughts that have been stored obscurely in my mind, not so much because so many years have passed, but because when I remember or encounter her, that awful and treacherous time is not evident in her smile or in her conversation. She has embraced life. She has taken lemons and not just made lemonade, but a kick-ass lemon meringue pie. (She’s a wonderful baker, you know.)

I am the mother of a one-year old boy now, and being a mother has also placed a different perspective of what I saw and the experience I witnessed her go through at that early age. I now can see the immeasurable strength that her mom had and still has to have gone through so much, including what must be the worst thing in the world to a mother: to see your child in pain. It also lets me realize how young she really was when she went through this ordeal, and which she continues to live with today. She is undoubtedly one of the most awesome and admirable people I have EVER encountered, and if I could bring anything to this site with this message is that it’s a real blessing to know her and be a small part of this beautiful accomplishment, her blog The Curvy Spine. Yet, another one in her long, long lists.

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