Friday, November 19, 2010

My Own Early Thanksgiving...

As Thoreau sat for hours mesmerized by a leaf, tracing its outline with absolute fascination, I feel I share that same wonder and total awe when it comes to people. I have felt like I have reached my quota of good people doing extraordinary things for me. Really. I could live until 2080 without anymore amazing souls giving so much of themselves, and still feel as though I was given too much. Sometimes I feel like my heart is going to completely rupture from being utterly overwhelmed by the sheer goodness around me. I know this is cheesy, but it is TRUE. I know some of my cynical friends are rolling their eyes at me, but thankfully they know what I am saying is my honest truth. Truly. This is not just a bunch of blog fluff.

I think I have cried about ten times today out of gratitude (and once since we had to hold Gideon down to get his shot...that was a first, but I won't focus on that tear genre). I'm pretty sure I will remain misty-eyed for the remainder of the night, as well. Maybe my eyes will be perpetually aqueous for the rest of my days, and I would not be surprised. I just can't fathom this goodness. I can't. It's too big for me.

As you all know, I have been taking off from school to take care of Gideon. Between the appointments, transfusions, and bouts of vomiting, I would have missed most of the school days anyway (even if I had gone back to work). Besides that, Gideon has just needed his mommy. He has. We have had days of cuddling and maybe I'm about to say this just to make myself feel more important, but I really think my constant presence has benefitted Gideon and his health. I feel like Gideon is at ease with me. No matter his pain or discomfort, I can rock him or dance him into a more tranquil place. This does not make me magic, it simply makes me a mommy...a mommy to a sick boy who, unfortunately, has been and will be sick longer than I ever imagined he would be. But, I had thirty three sick days, and my fantastic school system let me use every last one of them without question.

Now my sick days are up. I have to have my job, not only from the insurance and pay standpoint, but...I love it. I thought about taking a year leave, but that would leave me without insurance. Since Tom has to get private insurance if we don't use mine, that would ruin us. Without getting political, what insurance company would want to welcome us to their ranks? So, we ruled that out. We have been praying and waiting.

The waiting is over. Kirt Brown, a teacher at Mattawan High School, called to inform me that it was voted that I be granted "Critical Leave" to take care of Gideon. Kirt introduced this concept to our staff last year, and I remember whispering to my neighbor, "Isn't that amazing?" He worked hard to get this program in working order for our district. Never did I fathom I would be the one benefitting from it. Do you know what this means? It means that I work for and with a whole host of humanitarians. Mattawan Consolidated Schools is by far the district with the strongest heart and most giving spirit. No one has been anything short of supportive, from the top down. Basically, the staff will willingly donate their own sick days to me. I am dumbfounded, and yes -- teary. To work with a group of individuals who continually give of themselves makes me realize that the students we let loose into the world have had to have some of that beauty of selflessness seep through to them, as well. Love can be learned through osmosis. Thankful is not a strong enough word for how I'm feeling right now. Indebted? Nope, still not strong enough. I will work on that... I may be working on that for the rest of my life when I think back on this precious time I was granted. Every second I am able to comfort my sick baby is another eternity of gratefulness I feel towards you, Mattawan staff.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but besides my church who is still delivering meals, so is Mattawan. We have home cooked meals constantly without any of the work involved. Also, I have someone who is assigned to be ON CALL for me if I need anything and can't leave for any reason: milk, eggs, a trashy magazine...anything. This was all organized by the staff as well. I don't think any human being could have been more loved and treated like a queen.

This news was enough to keep me singing unending versions of Zippity-doo-dah all on its own, but get ready for another massive load of human beauty in the form of a Mattawan student I had the pleasure of teaching when she was in seventh grade: Katelyn Drake. She has dreamt up, planned, and organized a fundraiser to benefit Childhood Leukemia, and I am honored to be involved. The event itself is called "We Play for Hope Campaign." Please become a fan of it via Facebook by clicking here. It will occur at the Mattawan vs. White Pigeon Varsity basketball game on December 14. Everyone will wear ORANGE in support of this cause, and there will be orange apparel on hand to be ordered ahead of time. The NO SHARK shirts are BACK and in orange (with a newer picture of Gideon on the back)! There are also "We Play for Hope" shirts available. This is the ordering page. Orange wristbands and Mardi Gras necklaces will be on sale during all lunches and at games. For every dollar that is spent, a ticket will be entered into a raffle to win an Ice Watch courtesy of Medawar Jewelers (the sponsoring company). You do not have to be present to win. I am hoping that every set of eyes that read this post will be somehow involved in this event, or will participate in it. If you have any questions, you can email Katelyn at Katelyn, it was a joy having you as a student and an absolute delight to witness who you have become as a person. You are an inspiration!

I ended this grateful day with a snuggle-fest with my boys. Here they are, wrapped in their favorite quilts. Oh! And these quilts were made for them by the very talented Carol Grant...who happens to be the Mattawan Early Elementary music teacher. Sheesh. I'm crying again. I think I may rent a sappy chick-flick now. Might as well keep this dreamy-ooey-gooey heartbeat going...


  1. Every one of us loves you dearly and thinks of you daily! You know that I have told you often that you inspire me and you are my hero! <3

  2. Gideon is still as adorable as ever! You tell him he looks handsome with his bald head. So happy to hear your news and even happier to see that the true Amanda cannot be stunted through all the horrors you face. You are still as optimistic and lovely as ever. World, take note! We are all lucky to have you in our lives. Your joy and euphoria for life has not diminished at all. Is it safe to say that it has, in fact, gotten stronger? Look out, world. You're in for a lesson in positivity in the face of adversity! Love, Uncle Pat

  3. You are gorgeous, Amanda, inside and out! I think maybe your staff realizes what a precious thing they have in you. May the road to Gideon's recovery be smooth and more full of happy tears than of the other kind. Praying!

  4. I want to move to Mattawan! What an awesome gift they gave you to be with your little boy! Jeremy had only had his job at Parker for 3 months when I was diagnosed so he didn't qualify for family medical but they were super great and let him reorganize his schedule so he could be with me for chemo and surgeries and sick days. What a blessing that was. Although cancer is tough it softens our hearts and shows us the goodness of people. ((hugs))