Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I am ALIVE!" ........appreicating life!


Horoscopes are funny things. I always look to see what mine says but often don’t agree with what I read. However the one below, which was in the L.A times on the weekend jumped out at me.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23): The world you call normal is very different from what another person routinely experiences.

It is true, the world I call normal is different from most of my friends….and I hate that somedays….I am envious sometimes of what others have, their mom, all their siblings and of course their children, all in one piece, complete families…….

It’s helpful to be reminded over and over that there’s others who have suffered loss and rediscovered ‘life’ through grief and survival.  Other’s that also trudge through hardship some days, like a lead weight is tied to their heart.

Over the weekend, I watched a documentary on the History Channel which made me realize that what I’ve learnt through my losses has given my life new meaning……..even if it is um different. 

I wanted to share what I got out of the program to help any of you reading and searching for help….or hope!
The two hour doco was called “I am ALIVE!” It was about an Argentinian rugby team who survived a plane crash in the remote Andes mountains in 1972.

     A photo of the crash site taken by the survivors.....

With forty-five souls on board, the plane plummeted into a snowy mountainside where there was no life.  No food.  No water.  Just the survivors, surrounded by the skeleton of half the plane, death and hopelessness.

After ten days they began to eat the flesh from the deceased bodies, to stay alive…..something I couldn’t even contemplate.  But you do what you have to sometimes in order to survive.

During the seventy two days, they were stuck in freezing conditions and watched in horror as others perished from their injuries…..eight more were suffocated from an avalanche until finally, two of the remaining 16 men decided to hike out and try to find help to rescue those remaining……and amazingly they did….and the story gave me goosebumps.  I was inspired and fascinated...glued to the T.V.

While engrossed in the show, I realized that the theme and feelings of the survivors are the same for anybody….despair, suffering, lack of hope, resilience, depression…and grief, however, most important of all is how the human spirit through love can overcome….almost anything.

During the interviews with some of these remarkable human beings, are some compelling lessons and pieces of wisdom that I have to agree with.  One of the men, Nando Parrado,who walked forty miles over the desolate snow ridden Andes mountains to freedom said while on the mountain, facing death, he reflected on his life and what became important to him…… in his words…..”What simple things we need to be happy and how we demand lot’s more than we need in life!” I found myself nodding my head at the T.V.

We do sometimes get caught up in what we THINK is important, like money or possessions….instead of the little joys in life we often overlook.  Things for me like an all encompassing hug from a friend, or when Dempsey tells me with a cheeky smile, “I love you MORE Mommy!”  Yes, those things can’t be purchased. The tiny fragments of life and love…..those moments are what helps me realize how lucky I am.

     The ocean and Dempsey...two things I love and appreciate in this world!

Nando Parrado’s dearly loved mother and sister were killed in the crash.  Months after he got back to civilization he said the experience gave him a different philosophy on life because of what he'd learned through his grief…..“Rather than grieve and completely shut down, why not revel in life. Why not revel in the fact that I survived this.  I will take advantage of this life I have to do the things I love rather than not do anything at all." he said.

What an amazing outlook and spirit!  It’s people like Nando Parrado and this story of survival that fosters my spirit and strength.  Another example of what we, as survivors can do and how you should never give up or give in….sometimes we are rescued by old friends…or new, beloved family members, alive…or not.  And sometimes it’s hearing someone else’s story that feeds our will to take what we discover from grief and grow as a person to get to a place where life suddenly means so much more than it did.

I am a survivor, not of a plane crash but of losing loved ones whom I miss everyday.  And like these men, every step taken is a step…one step forward or two steps back……it IS a step.  And when grieving, that’s what we need to do, take baby steps…….forward and integrate your grief into your new life.  You've already chosen survival!

There are signposts along the way to tell you you’re on the right track.  Emotions that seem like mountains to climb and navigate through.  Brick walls you come up against.  Tears and questions you stumble through, but eventually you come to a place of acceptance, like a fork in the road, and your handicap can become an advantage….as in, you understand now how precious life is.  And like a seed that sprouts new growth, so will you.  One day you will blossom and use what you learned through your journey of survival into appreciation and love of every little thing.

I’d like to leave you with Nando Parrado’s last comment on the show, in a huge beaming smile he said “Life is simpler than it looks, love is the most important thing…love for our families kept us ALIVE!”

                                   The book written about the Andes Miracle

I can’t wait to read the book!



  1. Diana,

    This blog post really helped me. I've been sick this past week, so I've had so much time to just think...

    It's so encouraging to hear about Nando Parrado. Even though he lost his mother and sister and experienced such pain, he still has a positive outlook on life.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post. It helped me today.


  2. Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your kind comment....I was actually thinking of you as I wrote this article.

    I'm sorry to hear you've been sick, when you aren't well, sometimes your emotions and sadness are more intense...hope you feel better soon. Go and spoil yourself to feel better!

    I'm glad this helped, the producer/director of the show on the History Channel emailed me about this article which I was so thrilled about. He suggested I read Nando Parrado's book as its very inspirational. It's called 'Miracle in the Andes'....I can't wait to read it. Maybe it can help you from another's perspective.

    Sending a big warm hug to you in Spain and I'm sure your mom is around wishing she could give you a hug in person.
    Diana x

  3. Diana,

    I've had a fever on and off for a few days, and it's been hard for me because I realized I barely know how to treat fevers....there's so much I feel like I still want to learn from my mom. Being sick also reminds me of how my mom used to take care of me...yeah..I can see how emotions and sadness get more intense when I'm sad.

    That's so great how the director emailed you about the article! I should definitely look into reading that book. It sounds like an inspirational book, which would be very nice about now.

    Thanks for the big warm hug!


  4. Elizabeth, I so feel for you....I wish your mom was here for you. Its so hard and sad when you aren't well. There is no-one else like your mom to make you feel better.

    When I feel like you are I try and imagine what mom would say to me and I knew her so well I can hear her words, or picture her giving me a hug....I hope you can close your eyes and think of her and feel a bit better.

    Make sure you take some sort of fever reducer, drink lots of fluids and some gatorade, I find thats good when you are sick. And the most important is rest.

    Hope today is better for you.
    Diana x

  5. Diana, I always smile when I see your happy profile pic in the comments. After everything you've been through--living my greatest fear--and still living life with zest and makes me feel so strong. Like I can do anything. Thank you for the fuel.

  6. Kelle, WOW! I can't believe you've stopped by and left a comment. THANK YOU for your kind words!

    I love your blog, it inspires me to be a better writer and most importantly a better mom...I really look forward to reading about your philosophy on life....and like mine, you have a battle we all do. And it's what you are doing through your girls, especially Nella that will encourage so many others to appreciate what they have.

    When we found out Savannah would die, and there was nothing we could do to save her, a friend emailed me and said "Savannah doesn't know about tomorrow, only today...and your love" Nella is the same and I know she has the best chance at a fabulous life because of her Mom!

    You've made my day today....truly!

    From one mom to another, sending you a hug for any hard days ahead. I know I don't often comment but I always read the minute you post.

    With love and grattitude,
    Diana x