Monday, March 19, 2012

Life & Being a Mom

JRM and I were chatting the other night about what a roller-coaster our last two years have been. He said 2010 is his "lost year." He doesn't remember much. For me, it's 2011. I remember 2010.

Two years ago, we were in a situation that touched me like nothing else had to that point. It taught me (and many others) about friendship, about the power of prayer... It also showed the incredible, positive potential of social media.

It started with a hurricane. Actually, two particularly awful back-to-back hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005 that drove a young family north from the coast to our small town in so-Ala.

I met Jenni through preschool. Her daughter Anne Claire and my youngest Laura were the same age, and they latched onto each other at three years old and never really let go. Jenni and I did the same.

Fast-forward four years and you find me in Jan. 2010, chin-deep in WIP 3, and sending out queries for my very first novel. Our elementary school's big fundraiser was coming up, and Jenni was in charge of it all. I was helping her with publicity.

I called her on a Wednesday to talk about what we wanted to do, but she was tired. Anne Claire had been up all night with a fever. Me: "No worries! Get some rest!" And I hung up and went back into my WIP cave.

A day later another friend called me--Anne Claire had been rushed to urgent care with dehydration and respiratory distress. Another day later, Jenni called.

She was in tears and nearly hysterical. Anne Claire's little body was shutting down, and the doctors feared renal failure. They were intubating her (putting her in a medically induced coma), and they had called their priest.

They weren't sure if Anne Claire would make it through the weekend.

Oh, God, I will never forget that moment.

I'll never forget how loose the phone became in my hand. Only one other time in my life had I felt that way--as if everything was suddenly so quiet and still and very far away. And I was so cold. That had to be why I was shaking...

I hung up the phone and curled up on the floor in my bedroom. No one else was home, and I didn't even realize I was crying until the tears were in my nose. All I could do was pray, but I had no idea what to say.

The doctors had tested her repeatedly for swine flu, but the tests kept coming back negative. They didn't know what was trying to kill her. I remember pressing my face in my hands and just saying, "God. No."

With my eyes closed I imagined reaching across Mobile Bay, through space, into that hospital room and taking her little hand. Just holding onto her and saying, "Stay with us, baby girl. Your friends love you. Your mommy needs you."

After a few minutes, I climbed into my chair and got on Facebook. I posted "Please pray for 6 yr-old Anne Claire Dismukes. She's in the hosptial, and the doctors don't think she's going to make it. She's one of Laura's best friends."

Then I emailed my church's prayer list with the same request. Then I called my mom.

A few hours later, I got back on FB and found that another friend had set up a page for Anne Claire and friends from all over the world were asking for more information, putting her on their prayer lists. By the end of the day we had 5,000 people praying for her.

Her first smile after waking up.
I'd like to write, "And by Monday she was all better!" But that's not what happened.

She did not die.

That little girl was so strong and she fought, and we loved her and prayed for her. The doctors brought in an arsenal of tests and drugs, but I don't think they ever agreed on what hit her.

Anne Claire went home before the end of first grade, and she was there for the end of the year parties and awards. She had a tutor and she passed her classes, and a few months later she was completely off the oxygen they sent home with her.

Fast-forward six months to Christmas 2010 she was dancing on the coffee table with Laura, laughing and holding hands and looking for all the world like nothing ever happened.
Christmas 2010, 6 mos later.

Why am I telling this story? I don't know. Maybe somebody needs to hear it. Maybe I need to hear it.

Sometimes life throws you curve balls. Sometimes things don't go your way or nothing's happening as it should and no matter how hard you try, you just can't fix it.

You're not alone. Stuff happens. And sometimes difficulties last longer than they should, and we're not given reasons why. But if you're reading this, you have friends and ultimately, you're stronger than you think.

And wow. Look how fast 5,000 people came together to pray for a little girl they didn't even know.

You guys are great. I hope I've at least given you a little heart-warmer. Have a great week~ <3

42 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

I can't even begin to imagine how hard it would be to have to even consider the possibility of losing a child.

Jessica Bell said...

Wow. What a heart-wrenching (and WARMING) story. I can even imagine how it must have been for her mother! Yes, life does throw curve-balls. But I guess in the end it depends on which way we steer them. xx

SA Larsenッ said...

That is an amazing story! It always strikes me that in this day and age there are some ailments even the doctors can't figure out. I'm very thankful it all turned out okay. :D

Stina Lindenblatt said...

What a sweet story. I love the strength that little kids possess. We can learn a lot from them.

I'm with Jessica. I can't imagine what her parents must have been going through. My first born was 13 weeks premature, so I know it's tough when your child is sick and you have to hold onto the hope he will survive.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

We've lost two children on our street to illness and it's horribly, unimaginably devastating. I am so glad that your friend's little girl pulled through that scary time and I'm sure that those 5,000 prayers helped. It certainly puts things in perspective.

Laura Pauling said...

Totally crying here. I'm so glad this story had a happy ending. What a scare. I'm sure you'll never forget this experience. And when bad things happens it's amazing how people pull together.

Pat Hatt said...

So glad she made and fought through it all, losing a child has to be the worst thing ever, wouldn't even want the thought going through my head. Is inspiring at times what random strangers will do, if only the world were like that more often.

Meredith said...

That story is just so devastating--I can't even imagine the pain of losing a child, even though I don't have any. Thank God she made it through. I can see why 2010 is a year you'll never forget.

Adrienne said...

Thank God for happy endings! And thank you for sharing this story! I can't begin to imagine the pain and the confusion and the heartache. But I WILL go give my kids extra hugs and kisses!

Drexel Gilbert said...

Leigh,
Always love your blog posts. Especially love this one. I was one of those 5000 who prayed for Anna Claire. I am so pleased to hear the follow-up and to be reminded of the power of prayer.

Julie Musil said...

I. Am. Crying. Oh my goodness. What a wonderful and inspirational story. Thanks SO much for sharing.

amo said...

Crying here, too.
You know, maybe you needed to share this just to demonstrate the universality of love & caring. We're every day bombarded with awful news, as if the world was a horrible place and humankind nothing but corrupt. It's not. People all over the world are crying over the joy of one little girl in Alabama who is dancing on tables again.
Thank you for that story.

Carolyn Abiad said...

I'm so glad the little girl pulled through. I can't imagine how anyone could bear going through such a thing. And they never knew what the problem was? That would just put me over the edge.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

*wipes tears away*
thank God!
wow.

Colene Murphy said...

Omg...I can't even imagine how horrible. What a tough little girl, and a wonderful God for pulling you all out of that! Wow. Yes. Sometimes, you just need to tell a story. And I love that you did. That's so powerful, and scary, and will probably help someone out there, no doubt.

Creepy Query Girl said...

That is so SO scary and terrifying- I can't imagine what friends and family must have been going through. But I truly do believe in the power of prayer for many reasons. Thanks for sharing this touching story!

Talli Roland said...

Wow, that's amazing - and it's definitely put my own worry woes into perspective. Thank you for that!

Old Kitty said...

This is so moving and so lovely and so powerful. Thank you for sharing. Take care
x

cherie said...

A very heartwarming, and difficult story to read, but I'm SO glad the little girl made it through. Hooray for prayers and miracles and blessings! I can NOT even imagine having to go through something like that. I'm already paranoid as it is when it comes to my children. But I've always believed in FAITH and having HOPE. Thanks so much for sharing this story. <3

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Leigh .. so pleased all turned out well and happily.

You did chose the right day to share - yesterday was Mothering Sunday in England and Europe ... it is tied in to the Christian festival of Lent and Easter ... so your post is perfect - in all ways - Anne Claire is safe and partying once again .. Mothering Sundays are worth it ..

With a few big hugs - it must have been a very difficult time .. cheers Hilary

Gina Gao said...

This is a moving story. I really enjoyed the post.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

lbdiamond said...

WOW. Amazing!

Jennie Bailey said...

Thank you for sharing this. I think we hold back on our blogs sometimes when we don't have to. Like you said, somebody needs to hear this. It's such a message of hope, of friends, of prayer power. I needed to read this today. So thank you again!!!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I know that feeling when you pray "groanings words cannot express." Sometimes there are no words. This is a powerful story, Leigh! I'm so glad it has a happy ending. But I can definitely see why you won't forget 2010.

Elle Strauss said...

Such a testimony of the power of prayer, and faith and unity and the need for community. So moving. Thanks for sharing.

Clarissa Draper said...

What a scary story. I'm glad she made it out all right. However, I think you were smart to put it down here on your blog. That's what blogs are for, to help us remember the past and why it's important for us to remember. It's a lot like journalling. And if someone benefits from our words, even better.

DEZMOND said...

2010 was a bad bad year, I also remember it as the worst in my life, after the American bombing of my country in 1999. Two years that should be erased from the calendars :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hey, LB ...

Wiping tears from my eyes... That was a touching story. I am so happy for that little girl, her family, and you.

The power of prayer is amazing. And as you said life does through us all kinds of curve balls.

Thank you for this story.

How are you? it's been ages.

Kelly Polark said...

No parent should have to go through that turmoil. I've had some medical emergencies (not as life threatening, but horrific) with my daughter that about shut me down. But yes, I prayed too. I do believe in prayer. And I am thrilled that this little girl is okay! Thanks for sharing.

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh gosh- what a beautiful story. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Thank you for sharing it. I love this little girl's strength. I love how everyone banded together. This is what it's all about, isn't it?

Alina said...

My heart just about stopped while reading this. I can't even imagine the horrible pain that news must have caused everyone she knew. The picture of both little girls dancing on the table made me grin through my tears. Lovely.

Janet Johnson said...

A great heart-warmer! Wow! There are some good people out there . . . and I'm so glad this story had a happy ending. What beautiful little girls. :) There's nothing quite like those friendships from infancy, is there?

Anita Grace Howard said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing. I, too, believe in the power of prayer. I've for myself the miracles it can bring about. Bless your friend and her precious daughter. I'm SO HAPPY this story had a fairytale eding. :)

Pk Hrezo said...

*sigh* That gave me chills. Isn't it amazing how people come together in times of need, yet sometimes can feel so alone and separated? I think we do it to ourselves cuz we forget to ask for help. We try to carry the weight of the world on our own shoulders, and life wasn't meant to be that way.
Thank God for little Anne Claire's life. I cannot even imagine having to go thru that. Her mom is so blessed to have you as a friend. Thanks for this really special post. ((hugs))

LTM said...

@Laura--I was misty writing that. It was such a tough experience. But it changed everyone involved. That area had faced a lot, but people were good about coming together like that. :o) <3

@Cherie--and difficult to write. It did strengthen our faith, though. We can always look back to that miracle. And to all the people who care and are just waiting to help. :o) <3

@Gina--I'm so glad! Thanks for stopping by! :o)

@LBD--yep yep! :o) <3

@PK--You nailed it there. This post was partly inspired by a friend of my mom's, a lady I've known my whole life, who didn't. And now she's gone. As hard as things get, you're not the only one dealing with things. Talk to someone. :o) <3

Jolene Perry said...

Awesome reminder.
Fabulous story.

Thank you.

Ella said...

I am so glad you shared! WE don't know how profoundly we touch people when we do~ I know have tears headed for my nose. Prayer is powerful...
Sometimes things happen and we never know...
My son was told he had cancer, he didn't. His Senior year in high school. He was in the hospital for 10 days, with bpressure so high he couldn't get out of bed. He had fluid outside his lungs and then it all went away. We never found out why? I suspect a dental procedure with a dirty instrument.
Bacteria can cause pleural effusions.
Thanks for being you, Leigh! xXx

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, sure. Make me sit here like a sniveling idiot. That really is an incredibly touching story, though. This network really can be amazing when it is tapped for something so huge.

Melissa Sugar said...

I lost a child (a triplet) and it is the most devastating thing a parent should never have to go through. That was almost twelve years ago and you never get losing a child. I also have a miracle child (one of the triplets) who was not expected to survive the same ilnesses at the same time (meningitis and RSV). I know the power of prayer and if not for the support of friends and family I would not be here today.

This is a heartfelt story, luckily with a happy ending. Thanks for sharing it. This reminds me that I often tell people when they are experiencing tough times, that as long as you and your family are healthy and safe; you can get through anything.

Take care

DL Hammons said...

Thank you for that lift! The power of community...however its defined...can be a truly amazing thing! :)

M Pax said...

Wow, you made me cry. I'm so glad Anne Claire is all right now. Life can be very wicked sometimes. We must remember we're not alone and people do care. Sure there are nerdballs, but we should ignore them. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

What a moving story, Leigh. There are some years that are so hard. I had a year (2004) that our finances were so hard, I don't think I had one good night's sleep. But I kept being thankful that our children were healthy and our family was good.

When it's not, then what do you do? I'm so glad you found a way to try to help that girl and I'm glad you wrote about it. I was relieved when I reached the part where you told us she survived.