Dakota Victoria Angeli has touched more lives in her 18 years, than most people do in a century.
Eleven years ago she brought people together to heal her ailing body and to realize the fleeting quality of life on this Earth. She could have chosen to be withdrawn and frail, but she glimpsed the worst and has relished every experience and adventure.
As she graduates from high school and heads off to Oregon State University, I am not alone in remembering the heart valve that nearly took her life. The summer of 2006 caused many of us to know we are braver and stronger than we really know.
Her parents, Mike and Diana, were at loose ends. What would the future hold? Would they close the family outdoor store for Mike to find other employment? What would Diana do next?
Her brother, Alek, witnessed the fear and the resolve. It’s made him the outstanding man he’s become. He’s pursuing the healing arts, with the knowledge of what it means to see the totality of the human experience. Everyone is someone else’s loved one.
I’d like to believe I’d love the Angelis without Dakota’s illness. Mike and I are cut from the same piece of cloth, and Diana patiently tended to both of our needs when we worked together. How she survived raising two true children, and Mike and me, I’ll never really understand.
She’s a strong woman, and a role model who will always inspire Dakota. The same is true of Lou Ann Angeli, a woman who took her grandson on outings in Portland as his sister was confined to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Dakota and Alek have outstanding futures ahead. Both will excel where they place their attention and effort. Nothing has been handed to them in this life, which has made them thoughtful and appreciative for things others disregard.
To rear outstanding offspring in an age of disposable products, including relationships and values, is a success beyond measure. Come fall, the Angeli home will be a little less populated, but Mike and Diana have earned a new era of focus on each other.
Faced with surgery and needle pokes, Dakota had to grow up quickly. Watching her mature into the woman she is today has provided the opportunity for many of us to stand a bit taller.
Come what may, all we are ever promised is this very moment. It is up to us to make the most of it. Here’s wishing Dakota many more sublime moments to come. You’ve earned them.