Every now and then, one of my friends will let me share their work. This piece is from one of my favorite little friends, 12 year old, Anna. When she read it to me in her hospital room, I cried and asked her if I could post it. She was nice enough to allow me. I thought that since we are celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday this week, this would be a perfect time to post it. I think that we all can learn something from this 12 year old warrior. Thank you, Anna. I love you!
December 18, 2015
Dear Theodore Seuss,
The first time I picked up one of your books, I was immediately intrigued by the chromatic colors, and sing-song lingo. The light airiness of the stories leave room for one’s imagination to completely unfold into a whirl of other thoughts. Because I stopped reading these books at around age six, I didn’t appreciate the simplicity, but still retained a deep connection to the story, at least until early August 2015.
I was a completely healthy kid. Never had allergies or hospitalization of any kind. And then, on a seemingly innocuous Wednesday, my mom decided to set up a basic blood test to see if I had any form of gluten intolerance (my oldest sister does). My pediatrician called us into her office two days later to review the results of my blood test. That night my parents and I were sitting in the UCSF emergency room, and suddenly I was the recipient of endless, terrifying tests. I remember a nurse coming in with a stack up to the ceiling of Dr. Seuss book in an attempt to relax me. I lay there bewildered, why were they only bringing me baby books?
I didn’t understand until late October when I was diagnosed with C3 Glomerulopathy, an extremely rare kidney disease. I was scared like I had never been before; afraid of eating too much or too little, afraid of pills and needles and remedies and health and sickness and living. Suddenly, I had to think about every function of my body; suddenly I had to pray these would not give out. Your books have touched me in a way no other author has done. In your soft, calming writing, I found what I needed to get through each day. I replay the rhymes in my head when I know the needles are about to poke and prod at my skin. I hum the tune of the print while drugs like eculizumab, and solumedrol pump through my veins, leaving me beat; I remember the calming syncopation of the lyrical rhymes and I find my center.
Dr. Seuss, there are few books I’ve related to like the Butter Battle Book. In this case, I feel as if the doctors and the disease are butter sides up and down, and I’m the wall, taking a battering from each side. They both have guns, and I have no armor to protect myself. The disease leaves me feeling tired, weak and in constant pain, but the medication the doctors supply me with wear me out beyond imagination. Everyday I find myself fighting a battle, whether it’s with the doctor or the disease, butter up or down. While I know the doctors are on my side, it still feels like a pointless cycle of exhaustion and needles. But through all of it, I am brought back to myself by the simple act of reading a few gentle lines of Oh The Places You’ll Go or Horton Hears a Who.
I am not telling you this to get your pity; that is the last thing I want. I wanted to tell you how the phrasing, however simple, can change how I feel during my moments of distress. I don’t understand why I was dealt this hand, I may never, but that is not the point. Dr. Seuss, your straightforward yet purposeful writing has taught me how to calm down and think about the bigger picture. You have given me, along with so many others, something to refer back to in the years and decades that are ahead of us.
I finally understand why, on that summery night of August 7th, 2015, my nurse brought to me that particular stack of books. It may have been that those were the only books they had; I guess I’ll never know. But I like to think that she gave me those books because deep down she knew the lulling, simplistic style of writing could help one whose life seems to be spinning endlessly out of control.
Dr. Seuss, you taught me what a precious thing life is. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me comprehend my crazy, daunting new life during my lowest moments.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more