Our Voice: We’re thankful for life, even with its surprises

June 18, 2014 

Bautista Barrera Heart

Elibeth Bautista and her father, Gabriel Barrera.

COURTESY ELIBETH BAUTISTA

Three stories in the past week reminded us that life is a temporary situation, and often when that life comes to an end, it is out of our control. The lesson is simple: Appreciate each day, each breath, each kindness, each opportunity to make someone else’s life better.

Safe passage

The newly dedicated overpass in Burbank has been named for Walla Walla Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Estes, who was killed in the line of duty at that intersection.

The one-year-old overpass in Burbank certainly will prevent accidents and save lives. It replaces an intersection that has been the scene of dozens of accidents, many of them fatal. We are grateful there is a much safer alternative. At the same time, we are mindful of the many people who have been injured and killed there.

Cancer Center

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center has been a part of this community for 20 years. Its journey has not been without growing pains. There have been some starts and stops.

But the concept that started the center remains valid. It was to provide a one-stop-shop with coordinated care for those who receive the unwelcome diagnosis, “You have cancer.”

The Cancer Center has helped people in the Mid-Columbia receive treatment closer to home. The disease is disruptive enough without having to travel for medical care.

The face of health care is changing in the Tri-Cities. Two of the major sponsors of the cancer center are undergoing big changes of their own.

But we’re thankful for the cancer center and for the lives it has touched in the past 20 years.

Gift of love

Lots of people are organ donors. A lucky number of the population are organ recipients. In most cases there is no relationship between the donor’s family and the recipient. It often is just too painful to be involved with a person who is alive only because someone you love has died.

That is a reasonable reaction.

For the rare handful though, an unlikely bond can form. Such is the case for heart recipient Phil Weitz of Umatilla and Elibeth Bautista, daughter of the man whose heart Weitz received.

The two will meet at Christmastime, but they already have become friends through Facebook, texting, letters and phone calls.

Two observations worthy of comments stood out to us in Sunday’s profile of these remarkable people.

The first is Weitz’s gratitude now about everything — from singing birds to sunny days to just having the energy to get out of bed.

After a heart attack left him teetering between life and death, when the scale tipped toward life, he realized how much he wanted to live.

His thankfulness is contagious.

The other thought comes from Bautista, who acknowledges that she still has rough days but has made peace with herself that it was her dad’s time to go and that it was not Weitz’s time yet.

We are grateful for the example of her serenity that allows her to accept this thing that she cannot change. It’s a lesson we all can take to heart.

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