This post is going to get personal. I want to tell you about the most terrifying and heartbreaking night of my life and how, in what I can only describe as a miracle of God, it took an unbelievable turn. I also want to ask something of you.
Almost two years ago I was packing my bags to go to NYC for a diamond buying trip, and then the biggest launch event for my jewelry was taking place a few days after I was scheduled to return! We were launching the expansion of my jewelry line at David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry and personal invites had been sent out as well as thousands of postcards, we had curated a show of custom work I had done over the years that people were bringing in, we had a red carpet planned, and champagne… you’re getting the picture. This was a big week. As I was saying, I was packing my bags all while my mom was nagging me about how she couldn’t get my dad on the phone. He was in the mountains at the cabin and he should have answered. Next thing I know, she is knocking on my front door sobbing that my brother had found him.
It’s very difficult to write this right now as my eyes pool with tears, my vision blurs, and I recall the events. Travis, my brother and his pregnant wife drove up to the cabin and found dad lying unconscious. They got him an ambulance ride to the hospital and as my best friend, now boyfriend, drove us up there we were told that he needed a helicopter ride to a different hospital but it was too foggy. The crisis grew.
When we got there the doctor told us that dad had a massive hemorrhage near the base of his brain and he would never wake up, it would be a miracle if he made it through the night or even to the next hospital which was hours away via ambulance, our only choice. The bleed was massive and people just don’t survive this, much less wake up. It’s hard to believe he was alive after having been alone so long without medical care. They call it the “golden hour,” and if you have a stroke your chances of recovery are significantly better if you are able to get to a hospital by then. We didn’t know how long dad had been lying there, but it apparently didn’t matter with a bleed like his. I remember praying with my family and just rejecting that this could be real. Not my dad. Not yet. I had so much to tell him. You’ve heard people say this before; perhaps you’ve been through it a few times.
Amazingly, dad made it to Chattanooga and through the night. Eventually, he woke up, and HE KNEW US!
I don’t mean to cut short the immensity of this whole experience but I have a point I want to get to here and I will very soon. I’m forever grateful to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN and all the nurses, doctors, and staff that helped solve so many puzzles and work so hard to heal dad. I’m also grateful for the Ronald McDonald house that gave us a place to rest between visits with dad, our neighbors that helped take care of our pets as we made trips to visit dad, all of our beautiful friends and family that prayed for us and reached out in so many ways. When tragedy and hardship strike, it takes a community to heal and strengthen us. This is the point I want to make. It takes a community.
As dad started to mend, the hospital told my mom that the recovery was nowhere near complete. Everything would be different now. Dad had to retire early. All of his well thought out plans and careful preparation for retirement were rendered virtually useless. Life has a way of laughing at our schemes. You’ve experienced this, in big and small ways, we all have.
If you’re wondering how my event went, thanks to my community of friends, coworkers, and family it went swimmingly! So many people came out and helped me have an amazing night and I am so grateful for all the love and support I’ve continued to receive in my journey. Thank you Doug, Joseph, Trena, Haley, Nicole, James, Jen, Emma, Trice, Libby, Barbara, Richard, Mary, Dylan, Suzanne, Ruth, Cathy, Linda, Ginger, Jerome, Suzie, Bob… so many more… Thank you for supporting me and my work.
Mom and dad had to reconfigure how they lived. My siblings and I visit and help as much as we can, but we can’t do everything. That’s where community comes in. That’s why I’m grateful to the YMCA. My parents have found so many activities and friends and ways to stay active through the YMCA. They go on so many trips and attend events through the older adults program and it is so vital to have this opportunity! I can easily see how illness or injury can confine a person to bed or to stay at home, but when you have a healthy and thriving community, there is a reason to keep moving and growing, and opportunity to do so! So when my mom asked me to donate for their annual giving campaign, I said “YES!” and I want to offer you the opportunity, as well.
There are many good causes out there deserving of your gifts, but today I ask you to give in your own back yard. Feed your community! You can help your community thrive with your donation of time, money, talents… I live in the greater Atlanta area and will be donating to my YMCA here, but I ask you to donate wherever you live because a stronger and healthier community is better for everyone and you never know what life is going to throw at you or when you are going to need to lean on someone. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to give to your neighbors and strengthen your home?