Jeni McDaniel’s comma

“The first time I read Frank X Walker’s ‘Love Letta To de Worl’,’ I was struck by his perception of how every individual on this planet has a personal impact on the future of our existence. Many of my friends from the band I play with, March Madness Marching Band, had already gotten tattoos from the Lexington Tattoo Project. I had felt saddened by the fact that I had not kept up with Facebook to be able to be an integral part of that artwork. Mind you, I am not computer illiterate at all. In fact, that is exactly how I make a living. But I seldom have the time to keep up with some of the social media that permeate our lives so completely.

This past summer when I was faced with an absolute diagnosis of stomach cancer, I felt the need to ‘pause’ in my life. To reflect on what I had and what I may lose. And to contemplate the reason for my existence and the reason for my possible passing.

Five days before my surgery was scheduled, my stomach surgeon told me he wanted to do another endoscopy to put his ‘own eyes’ on the tumor, so he could tell me exactly how much of my stomach and surrounding tissue he would have to remove. (The previous EGD had been performed by a Gastroenterologist.) He finished the procedure and told me that the mass was gone! Basically … by some blessing from the universe, the tumor that had been in my stomach had simply disappeared!

At that point I became intrigued by the LLTW project again, by the fact that many wonderful, loving people were ‘paying it forward’ to give folks like me an opportunity to share in this lovely tribute to the world. Just a ‘comma, a ‘pause’ in my life, which was all I really needed to commemorate the five months of uncertainty I had been dealing with, part of an already chaotic life I had been living for several years.

I am eternally grateful for the woman who made this possible for me. She is a beautiful, loving person who has always been there for me. And she is always there for those who need her.  Isn’t that what makes our world a better place? To be blessed with people in our lives who really matter? Who give without expecting a return? Who ‘pay it forward,’ if you will, just so that the world can be a better place. I know it may sound cliché to some, but it’s really not.

So with immense joy I would like to share my comma with all who care to share it with me! After my last EGD in October, I was cleared of having to endure major stomach surgery! I will have a follow-up in January. I have positively decided that cancer does not ‘fit’ with me. I love life and the people who surround me with love and happiness!

I’m not ready to leave this world, for sure.

As Frank X Walker put it, “… And yet, every day you continue to humble, inspire, and move us to tears with your natural beauty … our only efforts to mimic your vistas are what we dare call art and dance, music and poetry, architecture and language, and love. It is the only thing we have ever gotten right.”

‘Thank you, world.’

Thank you, Frank, and … thank YOU, World!

~Jeni McDaniel”

Jeni McDaniel's comma (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

Jeni McDaniel’s comma (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

Note: Jeni’s comma will be one of the hundreds of photographs included in the Love Letter To the World video artwork, which will premiere on Winter Solstice Day, December 22. Visit the artwork website to watch the video!