Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I've dithered a little about how to write this because it's important. You could say that it's kind of close to home. And it's a big deal.

A friend of mine has founded a charity. She's got vision and talent, compassion by the bushel. All these things sound good, don't they? And they are, too. But they're so much more than that.

Several weeks ago, while the big kids were off for visitation, I was at Costco with Q and my mom. I was pushing him in his chair and my mom had the cart. While she went into the dairy cooler Q and I hung out in front of the fancy cheeses case. Because when else might I get to take my sweet time perusing the lovely cheeses? While I was standing there, rocking Q's chair back and forth a little, a nice lady stopped on her way into the dairy cooler to check out the signs giving the whys and wherefores of the new milk packaging. She struck up a conversation about the same. We chatted for a bit and as the conversation wound down (how much is there to say about milk packaging?), I started to move off. Just as I was about to turn and make my way to the frozen foods, she said, very softly, "I have a disabled child at home too."

I turned around, all ears. "No kidding?"

She went on to tell a little about how he's all grown up, she's pretty much his sole caregiver, and it's just the two of them now. I nodded and commiserated about the 24/7/365 thing, the never-ending struggle to balance all the things of "normal" life with health care worries. She said that sometimes it feels like it's endless. Yup. I started to tell her about this charity, Out of the Gray, and grabbed a pen from my mom who had by now emerged from the dairy case. I wrote down website and email info. As I did so, I was explaining that my friend's passion is to serve mamas/caregivers who, "...feel invisible," she said, almost whispering.

By now, tears were streaming down her cheeks. "Exactly," I said. We hugged, tightly. "Nobody should feel invisible." As I left, I asked her to promise me that she'd call or email my friend, if not for herself then maybe for a friend who might need it, but that she'd certainly be welcome to contact and nominate herself.

To my knowledge, she hasn't contacted the charity. But she might have read the website. She might be carrying the little piece of paper around in her wallet, maybe in her "emergency contacts" pocket, something to look at when she needs to.

I seem to be similarly approached by lots of people, certainly more than your average single homeschooling mom of five pushing a little green stroller/wheelchair. Maybe it's because my group is usually brightly smiling and easily engaged? (Not bragging -- I get compliments. Okay, I'm bragging. Whatever. It's my prerogative.) The most recent conversation was struck up when we were in the Arts and Crafts section of the local fair. This time with a grandma, one of only two caregivers (mom being the other) for her 5 year old grandson who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes pretty early in life. My kids were busily coloring quilt blocks for a larger project to be used in a local Ronald McDonald House. Other volunteers eavesdropped as I gave the Cliff Notes version of Q's diagnosis/life and the grandma shared that her little guy is pretty brittle already -- no play dates, barely able to attend kindergarten -- but the new insulin pump looks promising. We chatted about research in the field, how exciting the new technology and procedures are for diabetics everywhere. Then I told her about Out of the Gray and wrote down contact info.

Dang if the ladies there weren't all red-eyed and sniffling by the time I chugged off with the kids. The grandma, especially.

What does one say? I dunno, man. Except maybe this: apparently, there are a lot of caregivers out there, striving like mad, burning dozens of candles at both ends, not even thinking about the effort put forth or the dedication they exhibit until someone sort of whispers in their ears, "You're not invisible."

Reminds me a little of some old Journey lyrics...

Here I stand so patiently
For your lights to shine on me
For your song inside of me
This we bring to you
In the shadow of love
Time goes by leaving me helpless
Just to reach and try
To live my life
These are my reasons, so
here we stand so patiently
For your song inside of me
For your lights to shine on me
This we bring to you

Here's the link: Out of the Gray.

It's a big deal.

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