It’s true we often behave badly. Even the best of us have moments we would like to forget. Have you ever noticed how we sometimes treat each other? It seems that when we are independently living our lives, the less tolerance we have for each other. But when times get tough, we shake it off and do what’s right! For instance;
- Neighbors have little patience for cars on the street or the dogs barking next door. They may not even wave to each other as they pass on the street. But if a tornado strikes or forest fires threaten their neighborhood, they pull together.
- A sister and brother fight constantly, but let someone bully the brother and the sister will jump to his defense with a fervor not seen before.
- A good friend says something insensitive to another friend and they don’t speak for weeks. Then a parent of one of these friends passes away and the other is there with a meal and support.
- Two soldiers can’t stand the sight of each other. The next day they find themselves in a firefight and one risks his life to save the other.
It usually happens that just when you give up on people, they do things to restore your faith in mankind. Perspectives change when emergencies or life-threatening situations arise. We come together to help each other when really needed. The stricken family of your friends become your extended family during these times. You know if it were the other way around that they would be there for you also. When emergencies arise, you suddenly become aware of the caretakers and protectors that live with crises almost every day--the police and firefighters, the doctors and nurses, the men and women of the military. What would we do without them? They are trained to take care of those things for which we have no clue how to handle; and we would be hopeless without them.
This brings me back Lorelai, a beautiful twelve year old girl who is the granddaughter of very close friends of ours. Although we’ve known Lorelai for ten years, we have only seen her a very few times, enough to know that Lorelai is not your ordinary kid. She has passion, kindness, love and a respectful nature about her and a maturity beyond her years. Lorelai and her family live two hours away in Cape Girardeau, MO with her dad, stepmom, her brother Truman, and her sister Elizabeth. They are the model of a successful blended family with Lorelai and Truman sharing time living with their mother.
A few months ago, something wasn’t right with Lorelai. They visited her doctor who immediately told them they must go to St Louis’s Children’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with a rare Leukemia. As the news spread, hearts sank and stomachs churned. How could this happen and why?
Treatment began right away! Chemo and a bone marrow transplant was in Lorelai’s future. Terrible things to go through for sure! But they were the path to recovery and had to happen. Before I go further, no one suffered more, or was more heroic in this battle than Lorelai. Her strength and attitude during terrible bouts of nausea, very painful sores in her throat, isolation, missing school, losing her beautiful hair, and a never-ending cycle of good news followed by bad news followed by good news has taken months of endurance! Lorelai has shown courage for which very few of us could ever match and even fewer will ever need. Her bravery would require a whole story to its self.
This story, however, is about her team! The team that pulled together to save a precious life! The family, the medical staff, the friends, and even the strangers who became Team Lorelai!
Lorelai’s family stopped life as they knew it to help Lorelai get through this ordeal. Think how difficult this is! News like this will sap every ounce of energy out of your body, just when you need energy the most. But God finds a way to help you move forward as you must do. Lorelai’s father and mother were determined Lorelai would have one of them nearby at all times, even though they were no longer married to each other and both lived over 100 miles away.
Especially fortunate was the fact Lorelai’s paternal grandparents lived in St. Louis. Lorelai’s grandmother, “Nana”, became the rock of the family, next to Lorelai of course! Nana was there every day for her granddaughter. She was moral support, company, sounding board, protector, Rummikub opponent, and traffic cop—and that was just for Lorelai. Nana washed clothes constantly for Lorelai and her family for germs were the enemy; it had to be done. Papa was also there whenever he could be even though it was so difficult to see his granddaughter so ill. Aunts, uncles, maternal grandparents, etc. all sent love, letters, and gifts to cheer Lorelai on in her tough battle.
Lorelai’s brother and sister miss her terribly. Not only that, they have to give up time with their mom and dad who split time in St. Louis while Elizabeth and Truman went to ballgames, did homework, went to school and thought constantly about their sister so ill and far away, but always in their prayers.
Thank God there are everyday people who become superheroes to help others. That is the staff of St. Louis Children’s Hospital, one of the top pediatric hospitals in the world. What would we do without the researchers, the practitioners, and the caretakers who seemingly do the impossible! We may face awful prognoses once in a lifetime and hopefully never. Medical personnel see sickness and fear every day in those they are trying to help. It’s not easy to do this but they get through it knowing they have the knowledge and skills to turn around many of these serious issues. And the days they see young patients ringing the bell that signifies they are going home are one of their great rewards!
Friends pull in a tight circle around a friend who needs help, if only for strength and encouragement. Friends also ask what they can do to help. Sometimes it’s a meal, more often it is just a reassuring word or a distracting moment to feel normal life again. Also, her entire school and the city newspaper, Southeast Missourian rallied around Lorelai.
Strangers hear the story of a sick child through common friends. They join in on the combined higher strength through prayers and messages of hope. Most importantly there was a stranger, a bone marrow donor who, because of his or her foresight and generosity, gave precious and critical bone marrow that saved Lorelai’s life! This stranger was the key to the rest of Lorelai’s life and we thank the person so much! It is painless to be a donor but it is heroic to do so anyway because it takes time and thoughtfulness to help someone you don’t know and may never meet. For myself, it’s too late to donate due to my age. However, my daughter has registered as a bone marrow donor and we need to get the word out to anyone under the age of 45 that they can also give something very precious. That being the gift of life for someone who has this terrible disease called leukemia. It’s easy to do! Just go to “Be the Match.Org” and you will be part of the solution.
Lorelai’s ordeal has been both a gut wrenching ordeal and a spirit lifting story of bravery, tenacity, teamwork, patience, and love. Through the daily updates written on CaringBridge by her parents, and lately by Lorelai herself, we have been able to keep up with her story. We have witnessed, third hand, the high standards for bravery she has established and reminded us how lucky most of us really are. We pray for continued recovery and know Lorelai, and Team Lorelai is up to the task!