A tribute to my daughter Serena

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There are days when life flows freely— and then there are days when we’re invited to pause and enter our own depth and stillness. March 6 is one of those days.

Today, twenty-four years ago, I gave birth to my daughter Serena. Today I celebrate her—her vast intelligence, the wisdom embedded in her challenged 90-pound body— the profound insights hidden behind her beautiful green eyes—and her cutting yet plainly spoken proclamations, all from the depth of that deep, nasally, but simultaneously high-pitch sound of the voice of someone with cystic fibrosis. I share all this today not as unprocessed grief but as the infinite force of nature that is a mother’s love.

Serena was no ordinary individual. Throughout her short life, she did everything in her own fiercely independent way. At age 15 she took the GED and applied to college. The next fall, she was accepted as a pre-med student in the biology program at Cleveland State University.

During her brief life, Serena taught me about genetics, clinical research, about invasive procedures, about our medical model, our insurance system, and how hospitals work. She taught me about biology, natural selection, epigenetics, chemistry, and that the DNA we carry is actually code itself. She taught me about law, economics, and our debt system. She taught me the subtle difference between physical and spiritual comfort. She taught me how to be courageous, to surrender, to allow, and to let go.  Her passing away at age 19 is its own powerful event—like when molecules collapse only to become brilliant stars in the night sky.     

It doesn’t matter that she’s no longer in a human body. My devotion and adoration for her only grows stronger with each passing year. My appreciation for all she came to teach me only humbles me more and more each passing day. Today, I celebrate her luminous spirit– for she highlighted for me and hundreds more that death is the sacred passage towards the birth of new life.   


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