Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the global community

I think that one of the most amazing things about the internet is that you have the ability to meet so many people that you might never actually meet. Every time you sit down and fire up that plastic computer, you enter in to worlds that are similar - or vastly different - from your own.

You might meet people that live on the other side of the world, or you might meet people that live just down the street. You might meet people who are leading lives that you could never imagine. Or perhaps they are in a similar place in their lives, to your own. Or perhaps they are making their way through places you've already been and you can only offer words of support and encouragement.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a fellow blogger that happens to live in San Diego. He is the father of three-year-old girl-boy twins, and although we've never met, I know that he lives within my neighborhood.

Along with 3,000,000 other people.

The point of his note was to ask for help.

Matthew is the Director of a local YMCA and February is the month that they have their annual fundraising drive. Normally, he would be ahead of the curve with his fundraising efforts, but in mid-January, his wife suffered a psychotic breakdown due to severe depression.

During her breakdown, she purchased plane tickets for herself and the twins to fly away, without her husband's knowledge. But for whatever reason, at the very last minute, she didn't go through with her plans and instead, abandoned her children at the airport and drove home. She called 911 to tell them that her three-year-olds were at the airport and while one police car went to pick up the children - another went to pick her up.

The father was notified shortly after the police picked up the twins and he was reunited with them within hours. Luckily they were safe and while clearly traumatized, they have been doing better and better each day. His wife, meanwhile, is now in a psychiatric hospital and they have no idea if and when she will be well enough to leave.

This story absolutely rocked me.

I immediately felt such compassion for the mother. Having read their family blog, I know how much this mother loves her children. But having raised three-year-old multiples myself, I also know the kind of emotional and mental toll three-year-old multiples can take on your psyche. Charlie joked that my plan to drop our three-year-olds in Mexico was because I wanted to immerse them in a second language.

But really?

I just wanted quiet and the absolute cessation of responsibility. I very clearly remember feeling like I cannot take this anymore and if someone doesn't step in, I am seriously going to lose my mind. Thankfully, THANK YOU GOD, we had ice cream in the house that day. And thankfully, things are so much easier for me now. Sure, there are crazy moments, but by and large, four-years-old is a whole lot better than three-years-old. Not once in the past 96-hours have I even once considered auctioning our kids off on eBay.

See, I joke. But this parenting gig is damn tough work.

Suffice to say, the life of this family has been completely turned upside down. The father has transitioned to a single parent role overnight and while he did have some help from family for the first week and a half, he is now on his own with the two children. And in the midst of trying to care for his two small children and run the house and stay connected with his recovering wife, he has a YMCA to run.

A YMCA that is located a stone's throw from the Mexican/U.S border.

The YMCA that he directs is situated in a low-income community that is comprised of many families struggling to achieve the American dream. It provides childcare to hundreds of families, much of it at a free or reduced-cost. This year in particular has been an especially challenging one because requests for financial assistance have risen almost 200% over last year and they are struggling to keep up their pledge of never turning anyone away due to an inability to pay.

When Matthew sent out a plea for help, people that he has never met, immediately stepped up. Bloggers from all over the country offered various services that he could offer on an auction that is being hosted to benefit the Border View YMCA.

Here's a link to the auction page, if you are interested in checking it out and perhaps helping this worthwhile cause.

I had considered making one of my scarves for the auction, but seeing as it took me begging for people to bid $1.00 on one of my handknit creations, I decided that my best contribution would be a donation directly to the program.

Anyway. This global community warms my heart. If not for this global community, I never would have met Deana. Who tomorrow, will be boarding a plane with her husband, Jack and flying to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas.

From Jack's update earlier this evening, "We're extremely hopeful these doctors see something new, and Wednesday's visit is much more than an initial consultation -- I have no intention of leaving that hospital without Deana being admitted to the Lymphoma unit. Deana's treatment --whatever the experts deem--needs to resume immediately her doctor advised us this afternoon. We have no time to waste."

As I was reading through the various comments that were left for Deana on her CaringBridge website, I noticed that a Facebook Support Group that was founded for Deana on Friday, has recruited almost 800 members, a mere three days later. That is over 700 people, from around the world, that are praying for a woman that many of those people have never met. And that doesn't even include the people that are praying for her that aren't on Facebook. The scores of people that are holding this family in their hearts and wishing for a miracle.

There is a lot of pain and sadness in this world.

But it truly makes my heart jump with joy when I see firsthand, the potential that people have for good. Don't doubt it for a moment. Life really is beautiful.


  1. I too am praying for Deanna.Though half the world away, i know the pain she must be going thro. My husband too had splenic lymphoma,and is now cured of it after splenectomy, but the trauma was unbearable. a lot of people prayed for us and i'm sure God helped. Deanna, God will help u too.

  2. I agree with you about the amazing community created through blogs. I don't remember how I came across your blog but I started reading when you found out that you were pregnant with Henry and haven't stopped popping in every day since. As the mother of a 3 year old I relate to everything you have said in your post and I look forward to him turning 4. I can also completely understand that mother's breakdown. I don't have multiples but I am a single parent without the support of my son's father, who lives on the other side of the globe. I am lucky to have my parents around to help to a certain degree but that doesn't stop the feeling that I am the only person responsible for my son and sometimes it would be nice to just take a break from that. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I can't think straight but that is when I come to your blog and you usually give me the strength to continue. Without realising it you are keeping one person on the other side of the world sane with your witty posts and your obvious love for your family and your fabulous kids.

    My heart goes out to your friend Deana. Sometimes life seems so unfair but I will keep her and her family in my prayers and continue to hope for a miracle along with everyone else.

    Hugs and thanks from London.

  3. Beautifully written.

    I can relate to the mother and the airport. Living as an expat in a foreign country with all the traumas and trials that come with it. A wife leaving the country with all the kids is unfortunately all too common (sometimes the other way around, where the wife is a local).

    The results are tragic.

  4. Hopefully your friend gets good news at M.D. Anderson. And I live in Houston, so if they are here for an extended period and need anything, please let me know. I would be glad to help in any way I can :))


  5. I have two friends who received treatment from the same cancer treatment center in Houston.

    My male friend was told in the eighties that there was no hope but he is alive today and cancer free.

    My female friend has been back and forth from Wichita to Houston every few years to treat her very rare cancer as it comes in and out of remission. She is in remission today and celebrating the birth of her first grandchild.

    There is always hope and if there is a place to get help, that's the place!

  6. Hi Jen:

    I don't know if you remember me, probably you don't but I'm a Ducky Board member - I've been praying so hard for Deana and her family -I am so broken for them - you are a good friend for running your marathon in honor of Deana and Lymphoma - Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy your blog and thank you for sharing your very full life with us - bye the way, love the Turtle Fur too! Just used them in Vail! Great product!

  7. I just got caught up a bit and loved the post about Henry and the chocolate chips.

    This one was nice, too, obviously :)

  8. It is really good of you to use your talented voice and this blog as a place to raise awareness and spirits.

    Thank you for sharing these stories.


  9. Amen sista!


  10. I joined Deanna's facebook group and she will continue to be in prayers.

    I feel for the mother who left the twins at the airport...wow. I'm sure she is being judged pretty harshly but its a reality that women feel and hide too often. Life with multiples is tough! It is a rollercoaster ride that never ends. Last week I felt the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders and thought "Why did I ever have children? I could be making good money, traveling with my husband, free of responsibility." I couldent bring myself to say it outloud but I felt with all my heart, why did I do this? It was low. This week is much better and I am thankful and having a wonderful time with them. The guilt of the low times can be heartwrenching though. As a mother you never want to admit that you might not adore your children every second of the day. You feel like a failure asking for help. Tonight I'm bathing the three kids and one of them takes a shampoo bottle and squeezes it out all over the tile quick enough to make a huge sticky mess. You'd think I could handle it calmly but the stress builds up and I wanted to take the bottle and whack him with it (I didn't!).

    Anyway I am rambling, but I wanted to let you know that I also feel for that mother. I'm so thankful the children are okay and I hope that the mother can find peace.

  11. Jen that was an absolutely stunning post! It's true we of the internet are one big world.

    I remember when I started my breast cancer blog I had not only friends and family read it but people like you and others literally from around the world
    Prayers for Deanna and her family and Matthew and his family.

    I totally understand how his wife felt. I don't have kids and almost checked myself into a psych hospital this summer. At least she had enough strength to make that decision. How frightened she must be. And how overwhelmed Matthew must be with his job, caring for the twins and horrible worry about his wife.

    Sending peace, blessings and prayers to them all