In my previous column, I encouraged those who are celebrating Christmas to gift themselves with the feeling of peace this holiday season. However, you don’t have to be a Christian to welcome peace into your life, and everyone can practice goodwill.
If you are living with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I hope that you have experienced the goodwill of others. Perhaps you have a friend who is an attentive listener or someone kind enough to lend a hand whenever you need one.
But just like peace, you need to be open to goodwill to appreciate it. This means humbly welcoming the assistance of loved ones and strangers and allowing them an opportunity to make a difference in your life.
My family was incredibly fortunate to have been on the receiving end of goodwill throughout my son’s PH and transplant experience. We were uplifted by cards, phone calls, and social media messages. Some took the promise of prayer to an entirely new level by making homemade rosaries, distributing them, and asking everyone they knew to pray for Cullen.
A community gathered to help with our Children’s Organ Transplant Association fundraisers. Friends stepped forward to give our house a much-needed makeover in time to welcome Cullen home after his heart and double-lung transplant. A college friend and her family, who live on the other side of the country, ensured that we had gifts underneath our Christmas tree. They even extended their generosity and Christmas cheer to some of Cullen’s PHriends who were also going through difficult times.
The lyrics to “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds make me appreciate the many turns that goodwill has taken in my life:
“To everything, turn, turn, turn / There is a season, turn, turn, turn / And a time to every purpose under heaven.”
I have stood on both sides of the goodwill fence.
Years before my son’s PH diagnosis, I volunteered and fundraised for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. I remember how good it felt to help those going through tremendous emotional and physical challenges. It was heartwarming to witness their appreciation and graciousness in accepting help. Little did I know that years later, my son and family would become residents at a Ronald McDonald House. It is just one example of how goodwill is a gift meant to be shared — sometimes it’s your season to give; at other times, your season to receive.
As a young married couple, my husband and I used to volunteer in an elder mentoring program through our local Catholic Community Services agency. We were each assigned a person to visit at homes for a few hours a week. The woman I was matched with loved National Geographic but was legally blind, so I read to her and described the pictures accompanying the articles. My husband mentored a man who wanted a companion to watch and discuss the news with. Loneliness is something we all experience from time to time, and it takes little effort to help another person overcome it. I believe it to be the easiest form of goodwill.
When you are living with PH, you might feel limited in what you can do for others. I have felt that way over the years until I learned to appreciate the value of performing random acts of kindness. I’ve known families who have requested that people practice these random acts in memory of their loved ones who have died from PH.
Take a moment to help a stranger locate an item in the supermarket. Let in a driver who is struggling to merge into traffic. Donate a little time to help find a lost dog or cat. Be a presence in the life of someone who doesn’t receive many visitors. Send a card or handwritten letter to remind people that you care about them. I’ve occasionally volunteered with Cullen at our local hunger relief agency, Northwest Harvest. My other son, Aidan, often uses his automotive skills to stop and help people who have broken down. Find one of the countless ways, big or small, to make a difference in the lives of others.
Many wonderful organizations exist to help people through whatever season of goodwill they are in, whether giving or receiving. Some of my favorites are the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Wishing Star Foundation, Empower Philippines, and the Santa Hat Society.
Whether you are celebrating Christmas or preparing for the new year, I wish everyone peace on earth and goodwill to all.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.