I wanted to tell you about a terrific family I know and the challenging odyssey they are currently traveling on together.
Jim Flynn is a colleague and friend. He and I have shared many ASMP leadership foxholes. Jim, and his wife, Kathy (a gifted writer), got smart and moved their family from Boston to New Braunfels about three years ago. They have three kids - Sam-16, Abby-14, and Hannah-12.
Kathy has Myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia that destroys the function of the bone marrow. Kathy is now at MD Anderson in Houston. She underwent a stem cell transplant almost three weeks ago and will need to remain in or near the hospital for the next few months. So far, so good. You can follow Kathy's progress on a wonderful website called Caring Bridge. Remember I said she's a gifted writer. (Hint)
Becoming a potential donor yourself is insanely easy. Go sign up at Be The Match. You just never know who and how you might help.
A small army of family and friends has risen up and banded together to help the family navigate these tricky waters. Kid & House sitters, meal cookers, drivers, stand-in parents, prison wardens, etc... I've done one TDY as Mr. Mom and just started another. (Photo gallery here) While this TDY does carry some challenges, it is much more a wonderful privilege and blessing to get closer to this family and their circle of friends. It is also the perfect raw material for about 17 different sitcoms. I'm not kidding.
It's One Big Rolling Happy with all the highs and lows that one might imagine, but the overriding vibe and color is Love. The deep and strong love between Kathy and Jim, parental love, sibling love, and the special, cultivated love between friends and neighbors as we soldier through this life together.
The reason for all this - if you have not guessed already - is that Kathy and Jim are two remarkable people. Kind, loving, generous, humble, funny, loyal - these are the Flynns! (The fact that this sort of praise you are reading here embarrasses the hell out of them just makes this honest admiration that much more rewarding to reveal.)
Cancer is one mean, pervasive bastard. He will touch your life soon, if he hasn't already. We have better weapons every day but it's still not nice. Previously, I struggled (and failed or quit trying) to figure out what I could do to help the fighters in my life. Now I know - it just depends. It might mean steady prayer, it might mean being a patient ear, it might mean cooking some meals, it might mean helping clean out the pantry, it might mean doing an extended sleep-over, it might mean being nurse. You just never know and the needs change constantly. I was lucky enough to be explicitly asked this time, but I reckon most often you'll have to ask. But you will be given the chance to help. Take it. You really owe it to yourself to try. Trust me on this. You'll see.
Being a part of this adventure has helped me appreciate far better my own blessings - my own three courageous and generous children, my family, my friends, my health, my life. Our Father's love truly knows no limit.
With all my best wishes to you and yours.
(Update: I am deeply saddened to report that Kathy's father, Dr. Howard Dubin of Ann Arbor, passed away this past weekend. I had only met him through his children, but they have shown me what a strong and loving man he was. Kathy's Caring Bridge diary has much more insight.)