My sister wrote this essay, republished here with her permission.
My role model isn’t someone famous or someone with many years on me. Truth be told, the person I look up to most is someone less than three feet tall. My niece, Namine, is five years old, but she has gone through more life than some 50-year-olds. She’s had three heart surgeries, a cleft palate surgery, jaw distractors, and two foot surgeries, and those are just the big surgeries. Overall, outpatient procedures included, she’s had over two dozen surgeries. And even through all that, she is the happiest little girl I have ever met. She has more cause than most to be cranky all the time, and she has never once been anything other than kind. She shares everything without being asked to and she loves everyone she meets. I wish I had the kind of forgiveness for pain that she does. She takes everything in stride and smiles at every turn. This kind of attitude has taught me a great deal when it comes to my singing. There are so many things, in life and in performing, that we cannot control. So, why worry or get mad about them? Just go out, do what you do, and be happy that you even have the chance to do it, because not everyone is as lucky. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, performers and singers have their own bubbles of good that they can step into when the orchestra starts playing. When I sing, I thank God for every moment and every note, because I know that, in the audience, there is a little girl who loves me and has every right to want to give up. But she won’t. So neither will I.