My Brother's Keeper

It’s that time of year again, the time when Joy to the Kids participates in one day of fundraising known as “Give Choose.”  We rely on the funds from this one day of giving to support our program for the rest of the year.  Last year, we had a couple of very big donor matches that helped us exceed our goal.  This year, I have no idea what is going to happen. 

This morning, I read the blog I wrote at this time last year and I confess I almost didn’t start writing today.  That blog was so intense, so raw, and just so… moving. How can I possibly come close to capturing that kind of emotion all over again?  (If you want to read it, check out this link: https://www.joytothekids.org/single-post/2017/05/01/My-Very-Personal-Confession )

And yet, here I am. If there is one thing I have learned over time, it is that there is power in sharing your story.  And wow, did the story of my life take on new meaning this year.

Last July, I got a Call. That. Changed. Everything.  My brother was in a coma in Florida, from an apparent overdose.  The nurse said he had been there for two days (it took them that long to track down family) and that he had been without oxygen for an unspecified amount of time. He was not responding to commands.  He was on a ventilator.  She could not tell me more about his prognosis other than “you need to come.”

Now I’m not going to pretend that my brother and I have had an easy relationship in recent years… in fact, it was riddled with pain and guilt and regret… especially my own.  But once I got that call, nothing else mattered but being by his side. 

The next two weeks were filled with the kind of hopeless uncertainty that is indescribable.  I forgot to eat, I cried so much I wasn’t sure how it was possible to produce more tears, and as for sleep… ummm… what was that?  The fear of the unknown was so real it took on its own energy-sucking life form. More than once, I wondered what it must be like for those parents that I meet at the hospital that have to go through this with their child.  This was my brother.  What if it was my child?  How can they function?  How?

Then a bona-fide miracle occurred.  My brother, on the 13th day of his coma, started to respond to commands.  He was going to live. 

That was July of last year, almost 10 months ago.  I am happy to report that he is doing very well, in spite of the effects of the resulting brain injury.  Yes, there is still a long road ahead.  And yes, there is so much uncertainty.  But every single day is such a gift and provides a new opportunity for growth.  As a matter of fact, he will probably read this blog, and if you do, Patrick, I want you to know what an inspiration your story is to me and to so many others. I love you.

As things have slowly gotten back to “normal,” I have taken on a new business endeavor (I now own www.PrincessPartiesVA.com) and finding the balance between being the best Mom that I can be to my precious daughter, who is now eight, and running two businesses is a daily challenge.  I am not going to pretend that Joy to the Kids has had a lot of my attention over the last few months, and we are in need of funds to keep our program going at Inova Children’s Hospital and our new chapter in Denver, Colorado; however, I am now more certain than ever that our mission to bring Joy to the Kids into hospitals is a very important one, and I have faith that it’s all in God’s hands.  And that’s a pretty great place to be.

If you want to donate to this year’s campaign, you have one day only, and that’s today, Tuesday, May 1st… but don’t do it for me.  Do it for the kids.  Do it for their family, because they deserve a little joy in their lives, too.  But whether you donate or not, take a moment today to feel gratitude for this precious gift we have been given called life.  Smile at a stranger.  Hug your kids.  Call your sibling and tell them you love them.  Carpe diem, my friends!

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