I had another post I planned on publishing today. It is around a paragraph or so from being completed. However, instead, I want to tell you about one of my heroes. Her name is Emma, and she is 13 years old.* I call her a jellyfish, and she happens to be one of the strongest people I have ever had the honor of being friends with. There may be a decade of age between us, but I have learned more from her than many people I have known in my 23 years.
I met Emma through one of the treatment centers I have been to. Although she was only 12 years old at the time, Emma was in the program with all of us older ones. At the time, I was being treated for Anorexia Nervosa and so was Emma although Emma’s diagnosis was, unfortunately, inaccurate. That was not discovered until much later when Emma had already spent months in the program with me.
See, Emma is actually living with a rare degenerative brain disease. She has calcifications in her brain. My gorgeous friend has been through countless tests in an attempt to try to find a name for her illness that still goes undiagnosed. In the meantime, her body is continuing to worsen. She lives with a high amount chronic pain and a multitude of symptoms.
However, she is still my strong, amazing, powerful, funny friend. I sat next to Emma every single day at treatment during all of the meals and snacks. She was there to make me laugh and smile while I faced some of my hardest days and biggest fears. One day, she came into the program and told me that she wanted to know if a hairdryer would work in space. We spent breakfast chatting about how hairdryers worked and the answer to her question. From that day on, she would always ask me all of the somewhat random and funny questions she had. Her humor, curiosity, and spirit remind me a lot of myself at her age. Except, she is way cooler than I was back then.
So, why is Emma like a jellyfish? As stated by her mom, “Basically Emma explains that a jellyfish is an amazing creature. Beautiful and graceful on the outside a jellyfish appears to swim through life without a care in the world. Although, when a jellyfish is threatened in any way it has an amazing ability to adapt and inner strength to protect itself.” Emma uses this idea to find inner strength throughout her journey.
One day in a group with Emma, she told the rest of us, “Follow your inner jellyfish. That means [to] follow your inner peace and express your freedom. Also, jellyfish don’t take crap from anyone, and they can protect themselves.” When I think of her, I can certainly say that she does this perfectly! She is an extremely wise young lady and stronger than most adults. I feel grateful daily that I am able to call her my friend. One day she made a picture of a jellyfish for me, and that picture is currently hung up next to my bed, so I see it daily. I absolutely adore it, and it definitely helps me stay strong and motivated.
Emma and her mom Heidi have set up a store on Emma’s website http://www.journeyofajellyfish.com/, and they have begun a subscription service selling self-care boxes! The boxes all have 5-7 items that are centered on things to help you take a moment to yourself and also come with a gluten free (Emma also has celiac disease) jellyfish-shaped chocolate. This past month the chocolate was strawberry basil flavored, yum :)! Inside the boxes, you can find things like journals, adult coloring books, candles, teas, inspirational quotes, etc. The boxes are $25/month and come with either a 3-month subscription or a one-time purchase. There is also the option to donate directly, and 100% of the proceeds will go towards medical care for my sweet jellyfish.
Emma is a fighter and her and Heidi are the type of people who would do something like raise funds by giving back to others. I urge you to, please check out her website where her mom blogs about their journey together, like their page on Facebook www.facebook.com/JourneyofaJellyfish/, follow the Instagram account at @journey.of.a.jellyfish and even checkout her donate/store pages. Also, I ask that you help share the news of the needs for donations with those you know and send prayers and well wishes to her and her family.
Please, join me in helping this precious jellyfish swim a little bit easier.
*As you all know, I typically do not use names for privacy reasons for myself/others involved. However, I include these details on Emma because they are public on her website set up by her mom. Otherwise, as usual, her name would just be an initial.