It’s early Tuesday morning. As the sun is rising, the nursing staff is wheeling my mom down to the operating room to remove a large brain tumor today. My dad woke up at 4 am to drive with her to Jefferson Hospital. Because of COVID, he will be the one to represent our family, having to sit alone for the next five hours while we wait.
But the reality is, he is not alone, and neither am I. Last night, I posted a few lines on Facebook. No engaging photo. No video. Just a simple request for positive thoughts and prayers.
My eyes were swollen from crying as I sat on the edge of my bed feeling helpless and terrified. And then, I started to receive the notifications. What struck me enough to share this with you, was the diversity of those who responded. My mom retired many years ago as an office manager from Batesville casket company. One of the truck drivers wrote to me saying he would rally all of the other truck drivers to send good thoughts her way. There were friends she made in high school, neighbors, lifelong friends from the synagogue, people we met on our family trip to Israel last year when we celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with my dad. There were people she’s served with on nonprofit boards, on committees, and in volunteer activities. The ladies she plays mah-jong with sent their prayers our way, along with all of the people she knows through my sister and through me.
Within a few minutes, I didn’t feel alone. Even during a time of physical distancing, I felt wrapped in support. I felt hopeful for the first time in days.
It made me think. How would things be different if my mom had a disability? Likely, there wouldn’t have been all of the work-related friends. She wouldn’t have had access to community leadership opportunities, so all of those good people she knows through volunteering and board involvement would never have met her or benefitted from her talent, generosity, and compassion. She likely wouldn’t have married, so my dad’s relatives, friends, and colleagues who became her own wouldn’t exist in her life. She wouldn’t have become a mother, so my sister and I wouldn't be here, nor would all of the people who have grown to love her through us.
Social capital matters. Relationships matter. Opportunity matters. This morning, my mom is lifted in prayer and positivity and hope. The diverse people surrounding her are praying to their own God, or to the Light, or to their own Higher Power. They are thinking of her and I was able to share those thoughts with her this morning at 5 am as she made the drive into the city with my dad. This support made her smile. I could hear her smile over the phone. It strengthened her in a powerful way. It mattered.
So this is my hope: On your worst day, or on your best, you have a community to surround you. To ease your fear. To give you strength. To listen. To raise you up. To cry with you. To celebrate with you. To rally with you.
And if you don’t, you’re not alone. It’s why Integrate for Good exists. Everyone should be as lucky as my mom. (Everyone should be as lucky as me to have a mom like her). She’s surrounded by love and support today because she had the opportunity to become a valued, and treasured part of diverse communities. We’ll keep fighting until everyone has those same opportunities.