This I Believe

Ericka - Prairieville, Louisiana
Entered on October 22, 2007

Next month my mom is leaving for China to receive stem cell therapy to treat her multiple sclerosis. This treatment isn’t available in the U.S., and it’s going to require a month-long stay in China for physical therapy, acupuncture, and injections of stem cells into her spine.

Many with this disease who have suffered with it as long as Mom has are paralyzed, wheel-chair bound, or bed-ridden. And I think just about all of them succumb to debilitating depression. Mom certainly hasn’t. She sees the whole world as just friends she hasn’t met yet. Whenever she’s fallen down in some public place, stumbling because she can’t lift her left foot, she’s called me on the phone to tell me about the nice stranger who helped her, and how I should meet this person, because we’d certainly be friends.

She tells me she wants this stem cell therapy to work so that she can have enough energy to travel to MS support groups to be an inspiration to others who may have lost hope. Mom’s openness to love people has almost become a family joke. I can’t count how many times she’s told me, “Oh, Ericka, I just met the most wonderful person at the (insert place like supermarket check-out line, bookstore parking lot, or dentist’s waiting room).” I’ve talked to my husband about throwing a 50-year anniversary party for my parents, but honestly, we’re both afraid of how many of my mom’s friends will show up.

Recently Mom reiterated a story she read in a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer about his son, home from college with his laundry. Dr. Dyer asked his son, “Which t-shirt there is your favorite?” and his son showed him, pointing out all its wonderful attributes that made it his most cherished shirt. “Well, I want it. Let me have it,” he said, testing his son. His son said he couldn’t have it, but Dr. Dyer wore it anyway, all the time, every day. He told his son that he would wear his t-shirt until he wanted to give it to him. Mom told me over the phone, “You would’ve given me the shirt if I asked for it.”

For Mom’s China trip I wanted to give her something special to take with her, something to remind her that I’m supporting her. I pulled my laundry out of the dryer yesterday and found my favorite, faded, green t-shirt, the one I got at a Police concert last summer. It’s kind of thin, maybe showing a little wear, but it’s perfect. I gave it to my mom. I figure if she wears it while she’s away it’ll be like I’m there with her, giving her a hug.

Everyone has a favorite t-shirt – the worn one that maybe has a few holes around the seams, the one that’s cozy and comfortable and fits just right. I believe you should give it to someone you love. Trust me – they’ll love it as much as you do.