As you know, last week we started looking for a guest blogger. We didn’t have any particular criteria that we were looking for. That blogger could talk about anything she (even he) wanted. We were in no way prepared for such an amazing story of kindness such as the one below. The story made me cry and then made me smile….to know that there are people such as Tammy in the world. Hang on to your seats…this is a beautiful ride!! (And the window is still open for guest bloggers….we’d love to hear your voice, too!)
TAMMY'S STORY: http://www.thewolfleysketchpad.com/
When I found out I was pregnant with my son Brandon I joined a “mommy board” online. A place where I met lots of moms due with babies in the same month as Brandon was due. The March 2008 Mommies. Even though the short 9 month pregnancy is over and my son is now 18 months old, I still go there to chat with my “online mommy friends.” There is still so much to talk about, discuss, compare and so many questions to answer or ask in our world of toddler hood that we all share at this point in time. We share so many ideas in so many different categories, from cooking, to discipline, to gift ideas. I have even met a few of them in person now.
One of the moms lost her son at 4 months old and still comes online to chat with us. She later found out she has Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She has shared this sad discovery with us, as she is only now 28 years old. She is a single mom that lives in TX. She has a 3 year old and 10 year old daughter. Her treatment plan needed to be started soon, some chemotherapy is the regimen. After her family comforted her that they would help her get through this, she moved close to them in Arkansas, got another bone marrow biopsy done for the new doctor and ready to start her treatment…..her family backed out on her. She attempted a round of chemo with her girls and learned that she was no good to them for nearly 48 hours straight. Weak, tired and vomiting. She went back to Texas and found someone willing to take care of and help with her 10 year old but no one would help with her youngest, so she had decided not to get treatments until she figured something out. The doctor was about to drop her and she told him her problem so he got her in touch with a social worker. They told her that the kind of child care she needs has a 9 month waiting list. If she had stage 4 instead of stage 2 the wait would be less!!! She posted her frustrations on our mommy board. Just a rant she called it. She was feeling guilty about trying to get chemotherapy and take care of her girls at the same time. She felt it was impossible, and was so upset that no one would help her. And her low income from short term disability makes it impossible to afford daycare for her.
So I had been thinking about her post about the situation with her girls for some time because it just breaks my heart. It was weighing very heavy on me, nagging at me. Since I have been saved by God in January this year, I have come to realize….that what I once thought was my conscience speaking to me….is actually God speaking to me through my conscience. And my conscience was strongly telling me that I needed to do something to help. I felt such a strong urge, I just didn’t know what I could possibly do. She lived in Texas and I in Kansas. We didn’t have enough extra cash to just send her a bunch, so it wasn’t that I was supposed to give her money, but I still felt strongly an urge to do something. I prayed about it, having the thought, the wonder pop into my mind periodically, reading and re-reading what she had wrote......and then one day while making lunch, out of nowhere it just came to me, this one thought, “I have ONE opening in my daycare.” I repeated it….realizing that for some reason I have not been able to fill that spot for months. And just then it's like I knew exactly why....like I was "supposed" to have that opening. To actually stop and think about the idea I was developing seemed like pure craziness…..it would never work…..or would it? I would never be able to find the right words to describe the feeling that enveloped my whole body. It was like I could feel God hugging me and then gently pushing me to act on my feelings. He spoke to me, even though I heard no words. But I had the impulse that I needed to talk with my husband right then, it was almost as if I were holding my breath and praying all the while I was getting onto msn messenger to share this with my husband at work. We are used to living without that income now. It was maybe a little crazy and farfetched, but I copied and pasted and copied and pasted posts from the board about the whole situation involving Kristina to Chris to read. He said how it was so sad...and with tears in my eyes I asked him if it was ok to offer to keep her youngest daughter here until her treatments are over. And to my surprise he agreed immediately. His reply was a quick but simple “Yeah, that’s fine with me.”
This was the first he had ever learned of Kristina, I had never mentioned it before….and without any delay….his reply was quick and to the point ‘Yeah, that’s fine with me.’ This sent chills through my body, and gave me a safe reassurance that God was standing by my side and he was working through us. So I made the offer through an email, hoping she'd accept, but knowing she may very well not. I sent ALL my daycare paperwork along, a long reference list, and told her I'd do anything to show her she could trust me.She replied saying that she was in tears because she had just been discussing options of who could help her with her daughter, with her friend, and it seemed there was no hope....... and the last words she said before her phone dinged that she had a new email (from me) was "I just need to give it to God."
She seemed interested, but took some time to think about it as I sent the email 1 hour before we were leaving for our vacation. When I got back I told her my offer still stood and asked if she found any other way. She replied that after lots of praying and searching for other options, she'd like to take me up on it.She went to the oncologist that Friday, got lab work done, and got treatments set up to start on the following Tuesday. They left Plano, TX around 3 am Saturday morning and got here around 10:30am! Her and her friend could only stay for a few hours and had to head back because her friend had to be back that night.
Ayanna and her mother, Kristina
So now my daughter, Naomi, has a cute little 3 yr old roommate for approximately 12-16 weeks! I feel so completely honored and emotional over this. It's really cool. Especially since we had never met in person until Saturday morning when she dropped her little girl off! We filled out tons of papers and permission forms for ER and doctor's office and all the daycare paperwork.
Naomi and Anna are getting along so well, and have become great friends! Anna is so sweet and affectionate and loving. She fits in so well here and we have come to love and care for her so much. Anna and Naomi even refer to themselves as sisters now.
Tammy, Ayanna, Naomi and Brandon
All I can say is that God is GOOD, AMAZING and AWESOME!!
I feel so blessed to have been given such an extraordinary opportunity, and feel honored and privileged to have Anna in our home. I have felt totally in tune to God this past few months, and all I did was listen and pray. It is my greatest hope that even after Anna leaves us to return home that I can continue to receive opportunities to serve God in such a great way and to reach out and touch the hearts of others.I speak to Kristina daily and do my best to keep her up to date on how Anna is doing. I send picture and text messages on my phone frequently every day and we meet when we can on yahoo with our web cams! I can't wait for the day Kristina’s treatment is complete and successful and Anna gets to return home to her mommy! I’ve said prayers that God will help me to be able to find the right words to help her find her strength, to give her hope to continue, to remind her that she has a great purpose here as a mom and a strong need to fight and never give up.
Chris, Tammy, Ayana, Naomi and Brandon
Kristina and I have had many intense and deep conversations, there have been moments of happiness and moments of great worry. The bond that has developed between our two families has been a blessing in itself. This has been an experience that has made a positive and lasting impression on both our lives. Chris and I have also been asked to be Ayanna’s Godparents and we accepted! My only hope for the future is that I can continue down this path of helping others even after Ayanna goes home.
An update 10 weeks after Ayanna’s arrival:
Ayanna has been here 10 weeks now. Everything with her stay here has just gotten smoother and greater! Her mom has been in and out of the hospital 3 times, once she was in for up to 11 eleven days!!
She gave us a HUGE scare the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend. The Sunday night before that she got readmitted to the hospital after having been out for about a week. She hadn't been able to keep anything down and had gotten so dehydrated she was really weak and fell down 5 stairs. She went to ER that Sunday and they did some blood work, gave her some fluids (6 BAGS!) and sent her home. That night she had a fever of 104 and got admitted. By Wednesday it had been over 24 hours since I had heard from her and I was really bothered by that so I called her room at the hospital and was told she was not in there. I was hoping that meant she got to go home, but had a sick feeling to my stomach. So I called the operator back at the hospital and told him that I think I got the room number wrong for her and needed the right one. He said that she was actually in CCU and there were no phones back there. My heart sunk : (. I texted her friend and he too said he had just learned she had been moved. So neither of us knew why and just had to wait! Finally that afternoon she texted me and said it had been the scariest thing ever. The nurses later told her her stats. Her heartrate was 230 bpm, fever was 107.8, and blood pressure 218/148!!! She told me that she could hear them saying "She's turning blue" and "We're gonna lose her!" She said she had some crazy hallucinations that seemed SO real. One in which she thought her dad had died out in the hall. She also said she definitely had a near death experience and that she could feel it happening. She just knew it. She said she said a prayer and just "let go" and she heard God say "NO!" and she said instantly after she heard that she was back! She told me she had to have the same nurses that had been in there come back and help her to understand that her dad was still alive. She said when she finally got a chance to call him and hear him, she just started bawling! She was so happy to hear his voice.
Later that day we had a short discussion which was somewhat uncomfortable for me, but necessary, we talked about getting some more "legal" papers on file for Ayanna. So that if something did happen to Kristina that it would be filed with the courts where Ayanna is to be or to go. I explained to her that I needed to know where she wanted me to take Ayanna, that way some stranger didn’t come knocking on the door saying they were taking her because they were related and I’d have no clue who they were….or so that a police officer or SRS didn’t come knocking to take her away to be put in state custody. We discussed how Ayanna’s father would definitely want her after he was released from jail had something happened to Kristina. And that even if he were to get out before Kristina’s treatment were over that he would want to step up and take care of her. I told Kristina that Chris and I had discussed that we would be more than happy to keep Ayanna until her dad was out of jail. But in the end the ultimate decision was Kristina’s.
Earlier that week Chris and I had already decided that since we had plans to be in Joplin at my sisters for Labor Day weekend, we would take Ayanna on down to Texas on Saturday to see her mom. My sister kept our two kids. Kristina had gotten out of the hospital on Friday evening. She said the antibiotic they used on Wednesday was finally the right one and got her fever down. She did say she had to beg them to let her out on Friday. But it was an absolutely great visit.
We stayed about 5 1/2 hours. She has definitely lost some weight, was still pretty weak, but you could definitely tell she was happy we were there. (She cried happy tears just when I told her the news on the phone that we were indeed coming to visit.) There weren't really any tears when we left. I had explained to Ayanna that she would have to come back home with us, and that Naomi and Brandon were waiting for her to come play with them at Aunt Amanda's house. I think the part of it being my sister's helped, because it was somewhere new and fun and she had only just spent the night there Friday night and then we left right away, so she had no time to explore the new surroundings.
I'll never forget as we left though, Ayanna had a sad, kinda choked up little voice (like she was trying not to cry) and she said "Tammy I had a fun time with my mom today, thanks!" Also while we were there, Kristina gave me legal papers that name me Ayanna's legal guardian until her mom is healthy again. She gave me a copy and had her attorney file it with the courts. Hopefully there will be no more close calls or any more scary incidences!
Tammy, Ayana and Kristina