In What's New, Writing


When I was little, I would lament the fact that I didn’t have blue eyes to my mom. “Why are my eyes not blue? Why are my eyes so ugly?” I would ask.

“Be grateful you’re not blind,” she would answer.

For years I thought that meant that all blue-eyed people were blind, or at least visually impaired. It soothed me a little every time I looked in a mirror and saw my rock-brown eyes staring back at me.

Of course what she meant was to be grateful for what I had because you never know the secret pain a perfect face or a perfect life may be covering up.

I thought of this when I read that Angelina Jolie, perfect physical specimen, had had both her breasts removed to prevent breast cancer. The icon, the artist, the publicity seeker, had heard the devastating news in private and had, no doubt, mulled it over in the dark nights when she absorbed the fact that she carried the rare gene that made her have an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. There were no paparazzi, no awards. Just a woman facing her mortality, remembering her mother’s early death, weighing painful choices.

I don’t know that I agree with her choice. I am not supportive of the way the medical profession thinks its nothing to rip out healthy parts of women’s bodies “just in case.” But my opinion is irrelevant to her decision, of course.

I know I would never do what she did. I would opt for close monitoring and a healthy lifestyle. While she didn’t sway me to her way of thinking, she did do me a service. She reminded me that behind all wealth and blinding beauty there is still just a human being on a singular path no one else can ever truly know.

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