The Sidelines

What do you do when you or someone you love is in crisis? Do you stand there waiting for someone to tell you what to do? Or do you seek out things to do in order to contribute, diffuse the problem, or simply help out?

Unless you’re new around here, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not one to just sit around and wait for someone to ask me to do something. I walk into a party, and I like to find some way to contribute, possibly a way to make the party even better, and maybe even lighten the host’s load. Sometimes, that’s a drinking game, other times it’s loading the dishwasher! But offering to help wasn’t always something I found easy to do. I always felt obligated to help growing up, like if I didn’t offer to clear the table or do the dishes when we ate dinner at a friend’s house, I was the worst daughter ever. Because of those ill feelings, I always felt guilty asking others for help, but once I got over myself & realized how good it felt to help someone else out… it made doing either one rather simple, almost a given now.

I shrug off the “Oh, you don’t have to do that” Yes, I know I don’t have to, thing is, I want to. And I realize some people just say that, but I really do mean it. Last week, my sister needed me. As some of you know, my infant niece is not well. She spent 10 days in the NICU and is now on hospice care. I get a lump in my throat just typing that. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, let alone next week at this point. Sitting on the sidelines during a tragedy such as this is just not an option for this Momma. The first 24 hours after this terrible event struck, I was a wreck. I couldn’t focus on anything. I had to get to my sister, 2 hours away… who cares if I could barely walk on my foot I just had surgery on 3 weeks prior?! I was going, somehow.

My sister-in-law, mother of 3, offered to take my 2 kids in Bay City… and without much hesitation, I took her up on her offer. I fought through a few moments of guilt about leaving my own kids to go help someone else, especially so soon after being off my feet for nearly 3 weeks, but I knew it was the right thing to do… and trust me, my kids got plenty of Momma snuggle-time while I was off my feet! The hubs managed to get off of work as well so we could go together, since I couldn’t drive yet. Oh yes… I still needed help, but I didn’t care. I needed to be there for my sister and my newborn niece! I couldn’t just sit idle and wait to be asked to do something.

So what did we do last week? The hubs & I got some of my sister’s house organized, I mainly focused on the kitchen (that’s the first place I always want clean) the hubs tried to fix a sink (yes, I did say tried) we brought them clothes for what ended up being a 10 night stay at Ronald McDonald House, a special blanket for my niece, helped them escape the hospital for a meal & a beer (of course!), we held their hands as we watched over our niece, we listened, lent a shoulder, and we prayed & cried with them over the course of 3 days. Three days I will never forget. Maybe it didn’t make a huge difference. I know it didn’t fix my niece. But hopefully it helped somehow, in some way, even if it was just for a brief moment in time. At the very least, I’m glad we didn’t just sit on the sidelines, waiting for our turn to play. We grabbed the ball and ran with it the best we could.

The challenge for us now is figuring out how to balance our family’s life with this tragic event… as much as we want to help daily, it feels impossible when you live 100 miles away. Today, I managed to find a way to contribute from my very own family room. I started a blog for my niece. It has generated over 3000 hits in just 12 hours. Do you  know how long it took this little blog to get 3000 hits? Let’s just say more time than that. MUCH more. It’s incredible the impact my niece’s life is having on so many people. And I’m relieved and grateful that I’m not alone in my desire to help.

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