It would probably be much easier to write about the few things that Oliver has not taught me in our time together because the list of his lessons shared, could go on forever.
Without speaking a word, Oliver has imparted more wisdom to me than any other person on earth. I consider him to be my greatest teacher. But as any student knows, the process of procuring knowledge is not always one of sunshine and rainbows. Often, though, the hardest lessons have the greatest rewards. This is certainly true regarding Oliver, his life and the things that I have learned along the way.
Oliver’s birth taught me to be more discerning with who I trust, to question authority and to speak up when I feel something is wrong. The trauma of that experience awakened in me massive doubt in my ability to make good decisions; but healing from this wound has taught me forgiveness, fortitude and led me to the uncharted waters of my own self-love.
His NICCU stay showed me that we had a network far greater than I ever knew. I learned who my truest friends were… those people who stuck around even when things got really hard.
The gaze that Oliver held in his beautiful eyes that first time they opened, gave my heart access to vast undiscovered worlds of depth and emotion. Those eyes have shown me agonizing pain, soaring joy and have taught me a language beyond words.
His early years revealed to me that I could survive unbelievable sleep deprivation and horrifying emotional turmoil… and also, that these things take a cumulative toll on a human’s well-being. This lesson humbled me and helped me to see that living a healthy balanced life wasn’t as easy as I’d always thought it was.
Those years also introduced me to a loneliness more desolate than I’d ever known and that loneliness awakened a drive to create deeper connections with the people I met. Friendships that blossomed from there showed me the power of strong community and its importance in my life.
Oliver’s many needs taught me how to build a network that would support us to care for him well. His medical requirements shed light on a broken healthcare system and ignited in me the passion required to fight for his quality of life. Oliver molded me into his advocate and through that role I learned how to ask for help, how to set healthy boundaries and about the importance of crystal-clear communication.
His seizures taught me that life will always carry with it, uncertainty. And that learning to be comfortable with that uncertainty is an actual superpower. They taught me to walk the razor’s edge between preparedness and paranoia and to REFUSE to stop living just because it’s scary.
His pneumonias have shown me that life is fragile and can be taken from us at any moment. And although I still struggle with it, this knowing, highlights the importance of holding gratitude for each moment we have together, even though many are exceptionally difficult.
Writing his DNR, choosing unpopular treatments options and dwelling in ethical grey areas, has helped me find a deep strength within, unbound by societal judgements and criticism.
It’s also helped me to realize that pushing the boundaries of our culture’s comfort zone, is one of my purposes here on earth.
In our comfort zones, we cease to grow; and herein lies the power of Oliver’s tutelage. Oliver removed any hope of a comfort zone for me. He took away my life of ease and grew in me the perseverance to fight for what I truly desire.
I want happiness? He says, find it in the midst of your sorrow. I want to see beauty? He says, learn to see it within your brokenness and fear. I want freedom? He says, find it amongst the limitations of your own mind.
He’s taught me to hold crushing loss and heart-wrenching grief alongside hope and vision for our future. Oliver’s life has led me to where my passions lie and shown me how to see the most beautiful vision of our life through art.
He has taught me to look fear in the eye, to weed through trauma to find gems of wisdom and then use them to face adversity with courage.
He has led me through the depths of the darkest dark and back to levity of light. Over and over and over again, he peels away the layers of my illusion, exposing the pureness of my heart and molding me into the person I was always meant to become.
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.”