A donor shared this story with us. . .
I have lived with passion and in a hurry, trying to accomplish too many things; I never had time to think about my beliefs until my 28 year old daughter Paula fell ill. She was in a coma for a year and I took care of her at home, until she died in my arms in December of 1992.
Paralyzed and silent in her bed, my daughter Paula taught me a lesson: you only have what you give. It is by spending yourself that you become rich.
Paula led a life of service. She worked as a volunteer helping women and children, eight hours a day, six days a week. She never had any money, she needed very little. When she died, she had nothing.
During her illness, I had to let go of everything: her laughter, her voice, her grace, her beauty, her company and finally her spirit. When she died I thought I had lost everything. But then I realized I still had the love I had given her. I do not even know if she was able to receive that love. She could respond in any way, her eyes were somber pools that reflected no light. But I was full of love and that love keeps growing and multiplying and giving fruit.
The pain of losing my child was a cleansing experience. I had to throw overboard all excess baggage and keep only what is essential. Because of Paula, I don’t cling to anything anymore. Now I like to give much more than I receive. I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog and frankly I don’t know if they even like me. But who cares? Loving them is my joy.
Give, give and give . . . what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don’t give? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine.
It is giving that I feel the spirit of my daughter inside me, like a soft presence.
By Isabel Allende