“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
   –French Proverb

My heart is filled with gratitude today.  My heart remembers with amazement and awe that a simple request for people to pray for a child I love brought more than sixty responses of support, of love, of healing light, and of prayers.  Sixty.  And only a handful of those people ever have laid an eye on my granddaughter, Cheyenne.

Chey is now six years old, and her life has been one that has called us to kindness, inspired us to hope, and filled us with delight from the very first day we met her in the NICU at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.  People who would focus on her medical chart might see her as leading a challenging life, but those of us who love her simply see a little girl who is delighted by the joys of living.

From time to time, we are reminded that Cheyenne is built differently, that it has taken more than a dozen surgeries to put together her little body, that an overnight pump still delivers a large part of her nutrition, that her childhood will be spent in tweaking and improving and balancing her health so that she can go on twinkling for a very long time.

Those of us who love this little girl tend to forget that there is anything different about her — unless you consider her extraordinary kindness and compassion and joy something different, which it is.  We celebrate the whole package that is Cheyenne, because we know that it’s likely that her extraordinary spirit is connected to the extraordinary challenges that make up her life.  Those of us who love her know that there is something miraculous about the way that such a gigantic spirit can fit into a body that is just over three feet tall; and not one of us has escaped being humbled by her enormity when it comes to embracing every single day.

And so we are jolted when reality intervenes and our precious little ray of sunlight is overcome by another challenge.  There is not one of us who wouldn’t trade places with her and spare her another round of poking and prodding and repairing; but we do not have that choice.  And so when the time comes for more reality, we turn to other people and ask them to surround her with a thousand candles that make her light even brighter.  And yesterday, she was bombarded — and so was I — by the prayers and healing energy of more than sixty people I know as friends, or friends of friends.  I read every single message sent on Cheyenne’s behalf, and the words and love and prayers made me feel thankful and strong.

Today the words have escaped my mind.  The crisis has been averted, and life goes on; but as my mind turns to other things, my heart remembers.  And my heart is grateful.

I think we sometimes underestimate the power of love and prayer and healing energy when a whole bunch of people become intentional in joining together out of compassion.  Sixty people, and those were only the ones who responded to me.  Multiply that by the number of people in our large family and others who love Cheyenne, and I would venture to say that there were hundreds praying and willing her back to health.  I would venture to say that there were many hearts that filled with gratitude at the news that Chey could go home and sleep in her own bed again.  It is through letting that gratitude carry us to another and another opportunity to fill the hearts that suffer that we discover our connection to our brothers and sisters.  It is through sharing our compassion that our hearts begin to remember and our world is healed.

Today the words that defined yesterday escape me; but my heart remembers and it sings with gratitude.  I turn back toward the people who offered their support, who held their tiny candles, who encircled Cheyenne with love and hope and compassion, and I let the gratitude fly.  I hope your hearts will remember how I feel right this minute.