What is it that makes you so strong? 
While others have battled around the playground 
You were battling for your life.  
While others were dreaming about their lives, 
You were the one who was truly living. 

Is it something that's born or grew strong in you? 
Is it  about the way you were raised? 
I marvel, Maddy, but don't understand
I wish  I could learn all your ways.
How easy it could have been to give up. 
For you to give in to the pain and lose hope. 

But you didn't. 

You've fought and you've lived and now you've touched me. 
What a wonderful life you have helped me to see! 
How lucky I am to have read your story. 
To be able to learn from the way you have lived. 
I reap the benefit of your struggle so dear
Yet never do I struggle as you. 

And for that very reason I owe you a debt. 
A debt that's so hard to repay.
I learn from your love, and your strength, and your life. 
And I'll try to live mine with the same sort of power 
As the life you have lived, with your courage each hour. 

To relish each moment as the moment is now. 

So thank you for teaching to cherish a life, 
I'll adopt your own motto in thanks of your touch. 
I'll love life in ernest and proclaim to the crowd
"If you can't help being different, then dare to be proud."


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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 15, 2004