THIS I BELIEVE:
I believe in the strength of community. I believe that if you ask for what you need, people will give it. And sometimes, even when you do not ask, people see what you need and come forward.
On May 10, 2006, my 22 year old daughter Margaret had a brain stem stroke. One of her friends found her unconscious in her college dorm room. While she traveled to several hospitals, her father and boyfriend were driven to her by limousine. Two of my friends went to the hospital to be with Margaret’s father, since I could not be there with him and they knew he would need support.
Friends located me in Paris where I was traveling. One of the people I traveled with had left a contact number, so I got a call during my first night in Paris. I traveled to London and then to Boston and then to Worcester to be with my daughter, who had survived surgery and was in critical condition.
Margaret’s college paid for me to stay at a hotel near the hospital; my boss gave me sick time so that I could be paid for the time off I took; friends packed everything in my house because I had bought a new house and moved two weeks after Margaret had her stroke; some brought food to the hospital so that I would remember to eat; others stayed with Margaret during those first nights so that I could get some sleep; friends and strangers gave me flowers and cards on Mother’s Day, which was a few days after Margaret had her stroke and was in intensive care.
For the first 18 months after her stroke, she was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. So that Margaret could leave the nursing home where she lived, friends, family and strangers contributed to a “fund for Maggie” and raised over $35,000 for a handicapped accessible van and a wheelchair ramp for the family home. 500 people have contributed money and artwork, bought tickets to concerts and a dance honoring Margaret. When the local newspaper wrote a story about Margaret, over $10,000 was given to the ‘fund for Maggie.”
Margaret is now considered “locked-in”, which means that she is totally conscious but has only her eye movement to communicate her needs and wants. Friends have bought her a laptop computer that she is learning to use with her eye movement. Besides visiting Margaret in person, people regularly visit the “blog” that was set up to communicate with friends, and where friends can leave messages for Margaret. There have been over 110,000 visits to this website since May 10, 2006.
Margaret has many friends, from childhood, from college, from church. And I also have many people I have met during my work in non-profits for the past 30 years. And these friends and many strangers have given us both love and support during this difficult journey.
I believe in the power of community.
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