Cherry Blossoms fill the air and bedeck my walking path. Whilst the tourists fill our fair city with pointing fingers and camera straps, my thoughts turn to death.
It is that time of year again: Fred's dying time. Three years ago today, Fred was admitted for tests. Three years ago he walked into a hospital, and I thought he was safe. I thought I could leave him in good hands. I thought I could take care of our children and work at my job.
But they broke his heart. They promised to treat him and did not. They left him alone without information and filled with false hope.
They lied to a dying man.
He was so young to die, only 39. Month after month, he worked at his job. He walked to his class. He did not look like he was so ill. We did not know an invisible killer was eating him up from inside. He had lost weight, he was becoming fit.
I thought of all of this as I painted Jenny's Jacket: "Just a Picture of Health."
Do you know Jenny Pettit? She is a blogger and advocate. She was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome when she was only 15. She had pain symptoms since she was two years of age. She spent most of her youth fighting off illness. Her parents sought treatment and diagnosis for years to no avail. Then a bright sunny beautiful day, a happy day like within this painting, Jenny was out in the sun too long. Some of her hair fell out and she experienced severe dehydration.
Then Jenny went to college at Villanova and dove into activism. She worked with the university to create and promote awareness of invisible illness. Due to her extensive personal experience she focuses much of her advocacy on the perception of young adults with disability and workplace issues. A few years ago she started her first Facebook group: UII - Understanding Invisible Illnesses group. She continues to develop this needed resource and is currently seeking 501(c)(3) status. She has fully embraced social media in her pursuit of health advocacy using Twitter, Blogging and working with Wego Health.
She looks so healthy, just like her jacket.
I know what will happen when Jenny wears her jacket. People will pass by and compliment its beauty. People will think it is a happy painting. But some will stop and stare. Some people will look deeply and see the path is filled with young women like Jenny in contortions of pain.
You see Jenny is one of the brave ones, the ones who advocate while they suffer. She will walk this path no matter how much it hurts in order to help those that follow her. She will walk among the cherry blossoms, knowing all while they smell of heartbreak and pain.