I take my early childhood story for granted, because honestly it’s the only childhood I know.
But I can't deny the trauma through which I grew to the person I am.
Early memories shape our stories.
And I know you have a story.
We all have a story.
At the age of two I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and my right eye was quickly removed. As a child I spent much of my time in and out of the hospital, so I would develop pet names for the nurses on duty.
When my parents couldn’t accompany me into surgery, at least “Froggy Fred” was there.
Childhood was filled then with all things fantasy and mystery. I would call in teams of guardian angels to surround my hospital bed. The Care Bear Angels were always at my feet, The Rainbow Brite Angels were on my right side (my blindside) and the A team (yes that A Team) would be over my head.
I imagined that instead of a prosthetic, my eye was actually robotic, granting me X-ray vision
like Data from Star Trek with access to a remote super computer.
Before Google existed. I had fantasized about having a Google Eye.
But eventually things happen.
You learn what the word matriculate means.
Growing up isn’t easy for anyone.
Growing up being the “weird” one is a special kind of difficult.
By high school I abandoned imagination for perfectionism which ingratiated me with the teachers. The other kids were fine, if fine means that they taunted and socially shunned me. Whatever I did I never felt like I could fit in.
Because even though I kept busy with extracurriculars, I felt a deep longing to belong that wasn’t being fulfilled.
I wanted so desperately to find a place that felt like home.
My family has always been a source of inspiration for me. There is no hiding in our family because all are welcome. My parent’s take pride that friends will still drop by unannounced even if decades have passed by because no one is a stranger at the Girard house.
We live big. We love big.
We also don’t shy away from sharing our development.
I had cancer at two, but my family raised a toddler with cancer.
My siblings and parents were all processing the tragic mystery of my illness while I was going through it.
When I give myself enough time to pause, I think they had the harder journey.
Cancer isn’t something that I wish on ANYONE, but with silver lining intact,
cancer brought my family together towards a deep level of understanding and functioning.
It is one that I hope to discover in the world and perpetuate.
The first time I entered a theater it smelt like home. But like no home I’ve ever known.
Dusty. Cold. Empty.
But it smelled of possibility. It smelled of creation.
I was cast in the spring musical at the neighboring high school and in that cast
I discovered fellow weirdos who were trying to reveal their own uniqueness.
We came together, hungry for connection, willing to be vulnerable in our own pimply ways and we became a family through sharing our stories. My imagination was restored, encouraged even, and the need to be REAL overshadowed perfectionism.
Entering the theater and making friends there was the beginning of my long journey home.
So much so that cultivating this type of family is a journey that I hope to be on my whole life.
To be a part of a community whose goal is to uplift is nothing short of magic.
It is a healing balm to our tender and wounded hearts.
We’ve all heard that home is where the heart is. But I don’t know if that’s true.
Because though our hearts are definitely in attendance,
Home is a place where our hearts can remember, be set aflame and be mended again.
Take Me There