One of the documentaries that got me through the most difficult and rocky moments of my illness is a documentary called “65_Red_Roses,” which is about Eva Markvoort, a twenty-something with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) waiting on the transplant list for a double lung transplant. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition affecting multiple organ systems, but most commonly it causes the body to over produce salt and mucus, thus damaging and scarring the lungs beyond repair over time. The documentary, while it is definitely about Eva’s journey toward transplant, is more about her incredible attitude toward the progression of her disease (given that it is terminal prior to transplant) and her interactions with the CF community on LiveJournal, since CF patients cannot interact face-to-face.
Eva gets her lungs, or as she puts it, “her pager goes off, and her call has come.” Instead of being scared of what could potentially happen, Eva looks at what she will be able to do after transplant. Throughout the whole film, Eva highlights the struggles of being young and chronically ill. But most importantly, she stresses the significance of not letting the illness be the negative center of your world. While Eva eventually suffers from chronic rejection in both lungs, is re-listed on the transplant list, and passes away before she has an opportunity to receive new lungs, her message of redemption, positivity and never giving up in the face of adversity shines through. Her last video, filmed from her hospital bed is one of never giving up, even though her body has given up on her.
Before she died, Eva said the following: “[I want to leave] a mark on the world, [make] a difference, some proof that i had been here, something to say that i mattered, that when my body left this world my soul had made its imprint.” I can say with certainty that Eva has left a mark on my life, despite the fact that I never met her in person. I have only read her LiveJournal and watched her documentary, but the way I look at difficult times in my own life is forever changed.
In some way, shape or form, every person longs to leave an imprint on the world they live in; to impact the world looks different for each and every person, but ultimately the core message will be the same.
What will your mark be? What will your verse be? You don’t read and write down your story because it is cute, but because it is the human prerogative to be heard. To feel as though every breath has amounted to something, and has mattered. That your life has existed and has made a difference somewhere, for someone at some point in the number of years you walked upon this mortal sphere.
What matters most is the mark you have left upon the world. This is why you write. Your verse, your meter, is the written evidence of your imprint upon others, and will forever be left behind, even after you have gone ahead.
I always wanted to leave my mark on the world: to be known for the ways in which my hands tilled the earth, my words shaped someone else’s life in a positive way, and my feet pounded the pavement. I never aimed to be the model for strength, courage, endurance in times of hardship, nor do I still wish to be. But over the course of my walk with illness, I have found more strength in my own ability to surprise myself. In the things I never thought I could do, and in God’s persistent presence all along.
So my verse will be just this: that no matter how bad, how horrible, how down and out I may feel, I’m still here.
Will your mark be to positively impact those in your community who suffer unjustly? Or will it be to preach the Gospel? In some way, we all preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it be through our words or through our actions. Will your mark be to be kind, encourage and empower others who need a hand up out of a difficult situation or circumstance? Will your mark be to simply shine a light, since this is just who you are created to be?
Or will your mark be to constantly complain, make excuses and negatively clog the world with frustration, pain and suffering? Will you be the taker in a community, only making excuses for why you can’t, when in reality, you can and should?
The choice for Eva was easy, even in an impossible situation; she was faced with a condition that began before her birth, and yet, being a taker, being negative, lying to others, making excuses, and being nasty was never an option. Instead, she chose to be positive, to see the glass-is-half-full perspective, and to see the possibility of life beyond and apart from illness. Illness, poor circumstances, good circumstances, amazing circumstances do not define us as human beings and members of this world. What does define us is the way in which we handle situations – both the good and the bad – and how we come out on the other side. Life is not lived in a vacuum, nor do we live in isolation. Our actions impact one another, and so we have the tremendous opportunity to bless one another with our marks.
So what is your mark? What is your verse? It is written upon your heart already, God has written it there. Search it out, uncover it, and live and breathe it. Write it upon the chalkboard of this world so that not only you can benefit, but others as well.
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