By Chanda Temple
When it’s your birthday, you feel like celebrating.
There’s cake, dinner with friends and presents.
But that wasn’t the case for Danyale Pickett, whose love of celebrating birthdays disappeared in 2009, much like the smoke from blown birthday candles.
In 2009, Danyale had a liver transplant after her own liver started to attack itself. Within six months of surgery, the body tried to reject the new organ three times. Doctors kept a watch on her, increased her steroids and monitored her medication. Visits to the doctor increased.
By 2010, efforts to keep her liver were working. But as she approached her 35th birthday that year in March, she wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. She was nauseated and didn’t feel 100 percent.
“I felt like when I was 35, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I was still afraid,” she said.
But by September 2010, her health started to improve. Friends noticed Danyale was feeling like her old self by 2011 and wanted to throw her a 36th birthday in March 2011. After two years with no celebrations, she was on board. To get ready for the party, she turned to her cousin, hairstylist, eyelash expert and makeup artist Zach Pickett of Hoover, Ala., for a glam session.
“I’ve never had an appointment to get made up,” she said, sitting in Zach’s chair. “It seems like everyone is pampering me.”
There was a time when Danyale never wanted to call attention to her face. Prior to the liver transplant, her eyes were always yellow because of jaundice. It was her old liver, she said. As a result, she didn’t like people looking at her.
“I’ve always had confidence. But eye contact, I never could look people in the eye,” she said. “I never wore makeup because I thought that drew more attention to my face.”
But, three months after her surgery, her eyes started to clear up. She started wearing makeup. And by November 2010 when she attended a friend’s wedding, she started wearing eyelashes for special events.
“When (my eyes) got crystal, crystal clear white, it was on then,” Danyale said. “I wear colored contacts, eyeshadow, mascara, the whole nine yards.”
As she told her story in Zach’s shop on this night in March 2011, she looked in the mirror and admired the transformation.
“Hey! Who am I?” she said, swiveling in the chair. “I feel like a diva.”
She strutted away from Zach’s station with a walk, just right for a birthday diva on her special day.
I asked her if the strut was because of that night’s birthday party. “No, I walk like that,” she said. “That is my walk. I feel really good.”
After Zach finished Danyale, I was up next to get my first pair of eyelashes. During the application, I couldn’t help but think about Danyale and how something as small as having clear eyes is taken for granted by many. Then, at that moment, I had an a-ha moment: Stop worrying about the small things in life because they could be big things to someone else.
Whomever said faking it is bad, was wrong. Getting those fake eyelashes and hearing Danyale’s story was one of the best things – and lessons – that ever happened to me.
Note: Danyale died in July 2011, four months after I met her. On her Facebook page, someone posted this about her: “I remember seeing u at ur bday party looking fabulous as ever, u had a heart of gold u will truly be missed. Rest now !! Love u girl!! Ur 1 in a million.”
Chanda Temple worked as a reporter for 20 years before becoming a public relations professional. She blogs about being better in business and more at http://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at email@example.com.