The other day I ran into a friend who is a cousin to the mother of baby Kylie. We chitchatted for a while about the ongoing situation with the baby who, that day, was scheduled for her THIRD surgery. The second surgery to “repair the fix” did not produce the results they had hoped for so this third surgery was to put a mechanical valve in. This means she will have to be on blood thinners the rest of her life and get more surgeries to replace the valve as she grows. It was an option they were hoping to avoid. What was supposed to be a 2-3 week trip is going on week seven now and all their resources are drained, from financial to emotional. The dad, Nick, ran out of paid leave weeks ago and Krista, the mom, is surviving on leave donations. If she runs out of leave she loses her health insurance and, for obvious reasons, that just can’t happen. So, her cousin mentioned possibly doing some kind of fundraiser to help come up with some money for them.
I got back to my desk and wondered if there was something I could do. Eventually I decided to get permission from my boss to ask my office for leave donations on Krista’s behalf. Krista works for General Services which is located on the 7th floor of the State Office Building. I work for Grants & Contracts and the Grants part of my office is also located on the 7th floor of the SOB, although the contracts side, of which I am a part of, is located in the AOB. I knew from my days at DGS that you get to know the other floor occupants from the hallways, elevators & bathrooms and I also knew if people can put a face to a plea for help they are more inclined to give. So I obtained permission and wrote my plea to my office asking for leave donations for Krista if anyone was up for it.
The next morning I got an email from a gal over there asking me if financial donations would be appropriate. She said if so, she and her husband would like to contribute. So I told her yes, that would very much be appreciated and told her she could drop her donation off at DGS with Krista’s cousin. A little while later Krista texted me that this woman, who Krista didn't even recognize by name, had dropped off a check for $800. Krista was so astounded at her generosity it made her cry.
None of us know why things like this are allowed to happen to innocent babies. Three open heart surgeries in the span of two months would be difficult on anyone, let alone a now 6-month old baby. We can all imagine the horror of watching your baby suffer that way, and we can all appreciate the toll it has taken on the parents as well. The sheer length of this family’s ordeal would be enough to make anyone snap. They stay with the baby round the clock, taking turns sleeping in a waiting room. They have little privacy and no sense of being settled. They worry about their 10 year old daughter in Juneau they haven’t seen in almost two months. Meals are out of a hospital cafeteria, and probably bad coffee out of a machine. It has not been easy.
What I know for sure is even though we can’t understand why suffering is allowed to happen, it is a chance to know and experience grace, tender mercies we've done nothing to earn. It is a chance to see angels walking among us, like this generous coworker. It is a time when we can all see and experience the best of human kind and to see God’s love and mercy through the actions of others.