How Many People Could That Amount of Money Feed? December 19, 2014
A question was posed to me on social media that has my mind turning over ideas and answers and attempts to validate why I would be willing to allow people to raise money to fly a tiny orange tabby cat from Nicaragua to Texas. $2000. (Okay, it's really $1, 965 but that is close enough to $2,000 to me)
ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS. It really is a lot of money. It is all pretty interesting considering the fact that when I arrived at DFW from my medical mission trip to Nicaragua, Uber was waiting to drive me to my home. As I was sitting in the cushioned, leather seats feeling true comfort for the first time in days and noticing how smoothe the roads were a thought came to mind: Our lives are just silly. Silly. That is actually the word that came to mind. We have all of the comforts in the world and yet we take them for granted. We are surrounded by things we don't need. We buy, buy, buy, until our homes are busting at the seams and then we sell it all in an online garage sale or donate it to those less fortunate just so that we can make room for the constant need to buy and to have.
And then a sweet friend of mine started a GoFundMe link to raise money for Nica Toña to come to America. That tiny little orange tabby cat from Nicaragua that stole the heart of my 6th grade daughter. That tiny little orange tabby cat that sparked hope in my 11 year old philanthropist. Initially, it all seemed to be the exact opposite of that actually. I had no hope at all that their reunion would ever happen but little by little and dollar by dollar the fund started to grow. It is currently at a total of $1,200.
Hope is a funny thing. I used to have a ton of it. When I was a child I was a lot like Camille. I always believed that good would prevail. I believed whole-heartedly that I could make a difference in this big world. My mother said that I have always wanted to save someone or something, from the word go. From field mice to kids of broken families, I too always had a cause. I remember making black arm bands for myself, my sister and my dog during the military response in the Persian Gulf in the 1980's. I have written articles for my university newspaper entitled "Bigots Should Be Burned". (Might be a little extreme but at the time my passion was running high) My point is that I thought that I could change the world. I really did. And then it happened. I got a real job with real bills and real problems and real stress. I saw children dying from starvation in Africa. I saw people dying from AIDS. I saw dear friends of mine horribly injured in work accidents. I saw one of my friends placed on life support for months and months while her child grew inside of her only to be sent to heaven the minute that the baby was large enough to live outside of the womb.
I am an ER nurse and have worked in one Level I trauma center or another since 1996. I have seen a lot of things that humans shouldn't see. I have held children while they died. I have watched people writhe in pain that no amount of morphine could cure. I have been hit, kicked, spit on, cursed at, held hostage and countless other things while being an ER nurse. Why did I choose this profession? I did it because I thought I could make a difference in this world. I was holding on to that passion that I had deep inside of me.
Although it seems as though I am telling you these things for dramatic effect, I am not. These things didn't just happen to me, they happen to all ER staff members. I love my job. I believe it was my calling. It has, however, scarred me. Coupled with the troubles that we see everyday on the news, little by little the world has stolen the very part of my soul that I prided myself in having: Hope. I no longer consider myself an optimist. I am without a doubt a realist. Some people are rich. Some people are poor. Some people are granted life for 100 years and some die way too soon. Hearts are broken every day and no amount of crying, drinking, laughing or shopping can take away that pain. Your heart just gets used to it and scars over a little.
...And then there was Nica Toña and my little ray of sunshine. The little girl that reminds me so much of who I used to be. I try to deny it but it is nearly impossible. Seeing her on our mission trip filled my heart with so much joy. Camille in Nicaragua was a metaphor to my life. There she was desperately wanting to help and not truly being able to do so. When Cam and her kitty found each other I feel that Camille found a life that she believed she could truly help. In her mind full of hope she could save this kitty, but in my realist mind I knew it would never happen.
Through her tears while looking into those big blue eyes I saw a mirror image of who I used to be before I lost hope. As a parent, we want to protect our children from the path of mistakes and pain that we have traveled. I guess that is why I am going along with this whole Nica Toña GoFundMe thing. In my heart, I know that this is the first chip of her heart that the world is taking from her. There will be more of these times. I realize this because I am a realist.
In fact, the realist typing this blog did a little math last night. I was thinking about the question that was posed to me: How many people could that much money feed? This is the answer that I have. I don't think I have a single friend who doesn't carry a designer bag. Designer bag: $300-$5,000. (most of my friends have several of these) Most of those friends also have designer shoes to match those bags. Designer Shoes: $200-$800. It is Christmas after all and most of us will receive gifts of things we don't need, spend money on parties that we don't need, buy new outfits for the season that we don't need. Most people I know have fancy phones with expensive data plans and hefty phone bills. Cell Phone Bill yearly: $3,600. I could go on with this but I am pretty sure you get the idea. Most of us have many things that we don't need and as we were purchasing them we did not say "How many people could that much money feed?"
...And then there was Nica Toña. You see I no longer think of this as a purchase of something silly. I see this as an opportunity to prove to my daughter that when humans work together we can make things happen. Wonderful things. When we band together we can save a life, no matter how small and insignificant some people might feel it to be. I see this as an oportunity to prolong the theft of my daughter's hope. I see this as a possible turning point in a young life in which I believe was born with hands made for the service of others. The world and life might have stolen my hope but maybe I can protect my daughter enough that she will be able to keep hers. Funny. There it is peeking its head through the scars of my heart: Hope. And I believe that hope is priceless.