On the 11th Day of Rare Christmas Phoebe wants you to know....please be aware of your facial expressions, comments and questions. They can really hurt someone. They can distort the self image these beautiful, brave fighters see when they look in the mirror. Phoebe has seen and heard many not so nice comments, questions and facial expressions about how she looks, how she talks, how she moves, how she breathes, how she uses inhalers, how she has to take frequent breaks, how she has to wear a mask...etc, etc. And seeing the expressions, hearing the comments has greatly affected the way Phoebe sees herself. I was most recently reminded of just how much it distorts Phoebe's self image when I was braiding her hair in front of our bathroom mirror. She was standing in front of me in my bathroom as we laughed and joked together about funny things that had happened that morning when she wanted to look at our reflections in the mirror to see how her hair was looking. In that split second that she looked at herself in the mirror her smile faded. I could see the sadness in her eyes as she looked at her face and neck. Her lymph nodes, always swollen, were prominent with the illnesses she has been fighting. Both sides of her neck, no matter where her eyes looked she saw these growing nodes. Her face, always slightly disproportionate, was so swollen that the disproportion was highly noticeable. The right side of her face was more larger than the left, giving her eyes the appearance of being uneven. As her sadness from what she was seeing grew, she hung her head. It was as though she was replaying comments, questions and facial expressions in her mind as she looked at herself in that mirror. Now Phoebe has asked me before "Mommy, why am I not pretty?", and in that moment when she hung her head I didn't give her a chance to ask me that question again. I immediately told her "Phoebe, you are perfect in every way, just the way you are. You are as beautiful as a princess. And not just on the outside, but on the inside too. You are kind, loving, talented, an amazing sister/friend, and I am the luckiest mommy in the world because you are my daughter." As I was saying these words to Phoebe, she didn't crack a smile. All she could do was look at me, because her heart still hurt. It's those moments, like Phoebe and I experienced while braiding her hair, that I hope inspire others to be aware of things they say or ask, and their facial expressions. Too often we all make the mistake of thinking we cannot be heard, seen or understood with what we are saying or facial expressions we are making. But the truth is, more often than not we are heard or seen. And words as well as facial expressions can hurt, very deeply.
The true author of this blog is my daughter Phoebe. This is her life. I am blessed beyond words to be her mommy and to be able to share her story with you.