Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Julie Project ~ Darcy Padilla

The Julie Project

"Once in a while, you get shown the light..in the strangest of places if you look at it right"...thus sayeth the Grateful Dead. Today I was given the light of empathy through a random Tweet, and it has been one of the most grace-full gifts I could ever have received for my birthday.

Darcy Padilla, through her photo documentary "The Julie Project", has brought a face to what so many experience as a humiliating, heartbreaking reality.  It is one of the most bittersweet portraits of human suffering, and yet poignantly beautiful, as seen through  Darcy's lens and words.   Darcy's dedication to finding Julie's children to reassure them that until their mother's last breath, she never forgot them, and  Julie's son Zach's last words to his mother, a mother  who he had only met one time through the incredibly gracious heart of his adoptive mother, Karen,  "I love you Mom, no matter what. Thank you for having me.", brought me to tears.

So many times we judge people too harshly. We think conquering poverty and addiction should be an easy feat with the right motivation; yet each one of us carries our crosses in life differently. I have unfortunately been acquainted with a Julie and Jason along my path in life,  but never could I have imagined how difficult it was for my friends who lost their own struggles with addiction, leaving behind angry, confused, and sad family members and friends.

My own father's mother gave her children up for adoption, leaving them on the steps of a New York City orphanage. I don't know why for sure, but I have always judged her harshly for that. I never will again..for at least she had the common sense to give them a better chance at life, a chance my father took, and excelled at...he became the best daddy anyone could ever ask for, and touched so many lives along his too short journey. If I could see her now, I would thank her for having him, and for making the painful choice to give him up.

Take a moment and view the documentary. I warn you, it is very painful, but if it teaches you anything, it's that we should always be grateful for the gifts we do receive in this world, and never judge another until you really have walked in their shoes.

Thank you, Darcy, and Julie, wherever you are.  Namaste.            

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