Back in the spring of 2002, my husband and I were told by a pediatric cardiologist that our baby would be born with a very rare heart defect. His best guess was that our son would be premature, then be sedated and ventilated until he reached five pounds and at that point, he would have open heart surgery.
When the news came that our child’s heart was getting worse and he would, indeed, be born seven weeks too soon, people in our lives starting mobilizing.
My best friend organized a massive effort to have people bring us dinner. She knew we would be at the hospital a lot, and we still had our three year old daughter to take care of. It was unbelievably thoughtful.
Which is why it should make perfect sense that we declined the offer.
My husband and I felt sure we could handle our household, his job, the dog, our daughter and a baby in intensive care. We handled it all right, but I look back and realize it was the most stressful time in my life. Luckily, our son proved his doctor wrong and he came home after three weeks. If his hospitalization had gone on for as long as the doctors expected, I don’t know how I would have held things together.
That story leads me to Tuesday, when I went to the garage to take some meat out of our upright freezer only to find that someone had left the door open. Water was dripping from the door and every bit of food had turned to a gooey mess.
What does my son being in the hospital have to do with a door left ajar? Wait for it…
Everything…everything…was completely thawed. All the beef and chicken we buy in bulk to save money, a big turkey, and lots of fish my husband had caught. Thousands of dollars in food. Gone.
I felt sick. I cried. This was food we bought despite losing our business last year. This mess was discovered just days after finding out that our health insurance at my husband’s new job starts the deductible over again on July 1st. The deductible we just met. Oh sorry, the $4000 deductible we just met. Oh, and before that insurance started February 1st, we had just met the deductible on our old insurance. That baby with the heart defect? He’s seven now and had his ninth surgery…in January.
In case you’re not counting, that’s THREE different deductibles we will meet in ONE calendar year. Our premiums are crazy-high too. We will put out over $20,000 in health insurance this year alone.
After realizing the food wasn’t salvageable, I did what anyone would do. I called my husband and then I starting venting to everyone who would listen. And, people did listen. Not only that, they did something about it.
Yesterday morning I received an e-mail saying that three great ladies would be at my door on Sunday with food to restock my freezer. A mighty generous statement, especially given that they live roughly 400 miles away.
It turns out that one person said he’d like to help us out then it kind of snowballed and other wonderful people got on board. People started mobilizing, and this time we didn’t really have a say. When I tried to stop them I was told, “This train has already left the station.”
All I can say is that I will do my best to pay this forward. I promise.
I couldn’t turn them down like I did my best friend all those years ago. And, I’m betting that when I look back at this time in my life, I won’t think of how stressful it was, but rather how generous people can be.
They didn’t do it for recognition. As a matter of fact, they planned on keeping it private. But I was not about to let this go unmentioned. My pride can take a ride in the back seat for this trip.
When I told my neighbor about it, she got goosebumps and said, “Thank you for telling me this. I needed to hear it because there is so much bad in the world.”
She’s right. But, you know what? There’s a lot of good too.