About bravely taught and proudly learned lessons

About half a year ago I applied for the role of collaborating writer to a small e-zine named at that time The River Paper. To my awe and joy I was accepted in the team, and I began to write short opinion texts that were published there once every two weeks or so. In time I became the Creative Writing Editor, and the name of the e-zine changed into The River Journal. It grew, I grew with it, the team expanded, and our voices began to be heard more and more, issue after issue, each Friday all around the world. We are still small, compared to other similar entities, but so many beautiful things happened to us during one half of a year! And in fairness I have to say that it is all due to the seed of dream planted by the one who is now Executive Editor and Founder of the journal – River Maria Urke. It was due to her imagination first of all that we came to life and that we keep on growing and improving.
Today’s post though will not be about the wonderful people that surround me at The River Journal, although each and every one of them who is or was a part of the team deserves my (and your) deepest appreciation – and for that and not only for that they will be the topic of a future post of mine. Today’s text will only be related to River, who is now a close and dear friend of mine, and who opened to me the beauty of her soul, teaching me about courage and about the art of living, sharing with me her own wisdom gained from coping with an awful disease – Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
I don’t believe that there are smooth ways to say to someone “I have MS”. But what I noticed about River’s tone when she speaks of her illness is the brave air of determination always present. River is not her illness – and although MS is slowly eating up her health, she has learned in time to rise above the excruciating pain and to show others the beauty that resides in a human being when this one decides to stand tall in front of a disease.
River decided to talk about her sufferance in a special manner – by writing a book. A book which is a testimony of her life and experience, a book which she allowed me to read prior to publishing and which gave me goosebumps not because of some pretentious tone but because of the sheer honesty residing in her confessions. It can be painful – no, it can be heart-rending to witness the damage done to a dear one’s life by an illness, no matter if MS or cancer or other such terrible things. And it makes you stand in awe when you realize the courage that it takes for the affected ones to not only accept it but also to tell you with a marvelously sweet bluntness about it instead of just feeling sorry for themselves in some dark corner of a room.
I admire River. And you may call me heartless because of what I am going to say now: I do not pity her. I do not want to offer her my pity, because a woman of such braveness doesn’t deserve my pity, but my love and support. Sure, I hate with all my heart that she must go through such a terrible experience, because she surely doesn’t deserve it. But I admire the courageous way in which she decided to cope with such a difficult thing, and the book that she is about to publish stands as proof for that. It’s an MS diary, a diary of pain and hope, of falling and of rising again and its name – “Stumbled and Standing” – is a good message for all of us. No matter that MS is tailoring its way through River’s nerves, my dear friend has already won the battle with this disease, by not letting it ruin her spirit and by teaching others how to do the same.
I am proud to know you, Riv, and because of you my soul is richer! Thank you!

9 Responses to “About bravely taught and proudly learned lessons”
  1. tashtoo says:

    I’ll raise my glass to that! Little spitfire that she is! Here’s to River, her vision, and letting us come along for the journey. No time for pity, we’re too busy changing the world for the better 😉

  2. Roberta West says:

    A beautiful tribute to courage and a vision worth fighting for. I don’t know River, but I do know of the desease MS through personal experience of having a sister who suffers from this condition. I also have a friend who lost her mother to its ravages, but not before she gave birth to twins, one of whom became my dear friend. I applaud River for her strength of courage in the face of such a painful condition. Congratulations both to you Lilli, and to River for what you and your fellow writers have achieved in the conception and creation of The River Journal! I feel it has enhanced my writing and pleasure of reading, this past few months since I discovered you again on facebook.

    Smiling at you

    Tai aka Roberta x

  3. River says:

    Liliana I love you. Thank you so much. 🙂 I am speechless.

  4. Lilli, A wonderfully written tribute. River is one of my heroes – she may stumble, but her spirit dances. I am enjoying watching The River Journal take off – it is soaring!. Thanks for your words of admiration about our friend River. She is a wonder!

  5. Gobetween says:

    With any illness it is difficult and important not to curl up into a ball and give up on life.

  6. granbee says:

    Such a beautiful soul you reveal yourself to be, Lil, in your ode to your esteemed friend and associate, River! I had not realized some of the facets of compassion you possess until this post! I have a new friend who is about 10 years younger than myself with MS and who has legal custody of a granddaughter (parental drug abuser issue here) who also has some chronic health issues (being successfully treated, thanks be to God!). She is ALWAYS smiling and busy with productive activities in her family and in our community. So I especially appreciate your post here in honor of River today!

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