Lessons from Kayleigh

I have been missing in action from blogging this week because I was overwhelmed with emotion when I heard that Kayleigh Anne Freeman is finally at peace.  Born at 1 pound her whole life was lived attached to tubes for 10 months and now she is no longer in pain.

I’m a very emotionally person and I always have been but something has changed in me since Aellyn was born.  I am an empath and I feel strongly the emotions of others.  I stopped watching the news September 12, 2001 because I couldn’t stand to feel the pain of the people as the plane slammed into the World Trade Center.  The news played it over and over and I think people become desensitized to the real humans in the story.  I remember when the Israelis had to evacuate the Gaza Strip.  It wasn’t about what was right or wrong – I cried my eyes out on the way to work hearing the stories from both sides on NPR.  I stopped listening to the news that day too. 

But this was different.  I wasn’t just sad that Kayleigh passed away – although I was.  The emotion was so much larger than that and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all week.  This is what I’ve come up with.  I’m sad of course for her parents.  Her mother will never bake cookies with her on a summer afternoon and her dad will never get to walk her down the aisle and I ache for their loss.  I’m sad for the doctors and nurses who gave so much of themeselves to save her and must be empty now that she’s gone.  The difference is I don’t find myself sad for Kayleigh.  When I look at the pictures of her beautiful face gazing into the eyes of her parents I had a strange epiphany.  Kayleigh lived her whole short life surrounded by perfect love.  She never knew hatred or war or racism.  Her parents never had a bad day and snapped at her.  She had hundreds of people around the world praying for her; pouring out their love for this little girl they never met.  Kayleigh experienced the best of humanity.  Pure and unaffected.

I think we sometimes see love as a feeling we have when someone does something we like.  We wait around for this emotion to overtake us as if we were helpless to make it happen for ourselves.  If someone is not in a “relationship” then they don’t know love, we assume.  I think we have it all wrong.  Love is something in us all.  Something invisible and yet tangible.  I could give Aellyn food, clothing, and make sure she had a clean diaper and she would shrivel up and fade away (this actually happens).  Love is the currency of the human soul and it can not live without it.  The best part, and the part we often don’t realize, is that we have an unlimited supply of love to give.  You can’t ever run out.  You don’t have to cover it up or dim the light.  You don’t have to portion it out or wait for someone to love you first – you can let it shine everywhere.  Shine on the least deserving to the most.  And as it nurtures the recepient it also nurtures the giver twofold.

This is what Kayleigh teaches us.  It is easy when looking at a helpless baby who is sick and fighting for life to know that we have infinite love to give.  You don’t have to know her personally or her family, ethnicity, political affiliation, or social class.  You just love her.  She moves you – it feels like sadness but I think it is the unadultrated outpouring of love we feel.  It strips us raw to the core of our souls.  We see ourselves vulnerable and divine.  As Victor Hugo said, “Love partakes of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like the soul, it is a divine spark; it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can limit and nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even in the marrow of our bones, and we see it radiate even to the depths of the sky.”

What if we woke up tomorrow and decided to love without reservation?  To pour out to everyone we meet the same feeling we have for Kayleigh?  What could that kind of love do?  What could it heal?  How much would we accomplish?

I say, let’s find out.