I met Ivanhoe almost a year ago. We met on Facebook which is where I’ve met a lot of people this past year. I’ve been so fortunate to become friends with people who also live with Ankylosing Spondylitis. What has been very difficult for me has been to see so many people suffer terribly with this disease because they do not get good care. Ivanhoe is one of these people but I’ve also met people all over the world who struggle to find understanding and remain hopeful. Ivanhoe has struggled. He has asked for help within the AS community and sometimes asking for help can be misconstrued. I don’t have a way YET of finding help for Ivanhoe from the Philippines or Abdul from Pakistan or Michelle from the United States but I am going to keep on my quest. The reason why I will always stay involved in Health Activism is to help people. I have a very big moral issue with one person getting help for illness and one not. I do not know where or how I will continue to work on this but everyday is a small step to learn, connect, and find new ways to do so.
As I work on Health Activism issues surrounding better healthcare I want to find ways to love and care for my friends emotionally and spiritually because that is one way that I can help. Life gets busy – we get involved in the daily trudge. It takes a small moment to reach out to a stranger and an even smaller amount to reach out to a friend. It can be a simple note on someones wall or a poke, a text message or a phone call. This is what life it about – being connected. Nothing gives me more joy than giving love and seeing our world through loving eyes. It is the pay it forward approach to life and it feels really good. I’ve been judged for being overly enthusiastic – if that’s how I’m judged then I’ll take it! I will use words like awesome and cool and LOVE. I will send hugs and fling glitter!
One day Ivan and I were chatting on Facebook and he asked me about why I was creating the apples and why apples. We talked about it and I shared a number of my reasons and a few days latter I received this apple on my wall.
I was stunned. I’m stunned by every apple that people have created for Apples For AS but I felt very touched by Ivanhoe. We continued our friendship and I found out that he used to like to draw but had given it up long ago. When I hear that people stop making art because of their chronic illness it hits very close to home. I stopped creating for almost 4 years due to being so sick. It isn’t just physical, it becomes extremely mentally challenging to be creative and as I’ve mentioned before I stopped being able to see the colors. By that I mean they didn’t come to my mind’s eye in a way that I was accustomed to and I wasn’t excited by them either. When this returned for me it opened my world back up to me so I really wanted to find a way to support Ivanhoe in making art again.
I decided to put a care package together for him. So, I went shopping to get some some watercolors and pastels as well as paper and a few other things that I thought he would need to jump back in. I sent the package the week before Christmas and I knew that it wouldn’t arrive in time for the holiday but I wrapped it all up and put ribbons and tags on them. I had a wonderful time. I love to put together packages! My mom always puts together such thoughtful packages and opening them has given me such joy over the years.
It took almost three weeks for the package to arrive and within a day Ivanhoe started posting photos of his work on Facebook. The first one he posted was an apple. I started crying. Then he did another and another and another. He has sent yellow flowers to Janelle and apples to me. Each one is a gift like every guest apple that has been created. They are gifts that I cannot begin to express to people how much they touch me. I don’t know how to say thank you to each and every one of you who has created and sent an apple. You have taken the time to connect and to create and to love. These hundreds of apples are love and hope and recognition. They are recognition that we can all be seen and heard and acknowledged. Enthusiasm and art – they are such good things.
It may take me another year but I will post all of them one by one on the blog. They all need their Art Apple Day!
I’ve been lost these last few months but I’m finding my way out.
Today’s AS Apple Spotlight was created in watercolor.