have a new random act of kindness. A little late, but this is a good one!
So I am back in Ecuador, in a very
safe city called Cuenca. I have a friend who was getting ready to travel South America
and he started in a city called Quito about 9 hours north of here by bus. He
was celebrating New Year's Eve there and from what I heard had a pretty fun
night. When he was heading back to the hostel, however, his whole group noticed
this girl seizing in the middle of the road. They tried to help her but she
wouldn't stop seizing. So my friend walked to the corner to grab a cab to take her
to the closest hospital.
As he's standing on the corner a girl walked up to him and asked him for the
time. When he looked down at his wrist to checked his watch, she stabbed him (I
should have prefaced this with my friend being totally OK! Don't worry. The
random act of kindness is coming). Long story short, he ended up with three
stab wounds: two in the abdomen and a very fortunate, superficial wound in the
neck. The cops arrested the girl and her accomplice. He was taken to the emergency
room to clean up the wounds, examine them and send him on his way.
Unfortunately this attack ended in a robbery and his credit card was in police
custody and he couldn't pay the $400 emergency room bill. (Side note: a billion
times cheaper than the US, the ambulance alone would have been at least $2000)
So a boy he met just the night of New Year's Eve, named Michael, lent him the
$400 without knowing him. He just trusted my friend enough to be decent.
Michael, from the UK, becomes even more impressive in a moment.
The hospital decides it's about time to release him, and he starts to feel
woozy and his heart is beating out of control. He asks them to keep him a
little longer. They comply. He continually gets attacks of tachycardia and he
feels like he is about to pass out, so he tells a nurse what is happening and
they agreed to give him a CT scan. My friend is suffering from
internal bleeding and needs emergency surgery to repair the damage. But it
seems, as we came to figure out, that Ecuador requires a guarantee of payment
in these situations before they operate. They are not accepting credit card
numbers over the phone from his parents, they want a physical credit card. The
volunteer organization refuses to put down a credit card because they don't
trust that he or his family will ever pay it back. Instead they called me
because we traveled to Ecuador together. But as you may remember, I am 9 hours
away on January 1st, the largest Latin America travel day of the year. They say
on the phone that he is critical and they need me there right away or he is
going to die and that I am wasting time talking to them on the phone and asking
me why I don't have a flight yet and telling me they can't wait for me to go to
the airline and make a flight they need the card RIGHT NOW!
So, I go to the airline and start begging for flights at the airlines who are
open. All flights are booked. I waited on two waiting lists and cried to almost
everybody in the airport, but no one is buying it. I called them back to ask my
options. The volunteer organization told me my only option was to call the US
embassy, they couldn't do it themselves because they were afraid they wouldn't
take them seriously as Ecuadorian citizens. I called the US embassy, who was
closed for the holiday, and got connected to their emergency line. I explain
(in English, thank god) the entire situation and how I need them to help him.
They tell me they are already aware of the situation. Michael from the UK had
already called them. The embassy explained they were connected to the right
people and they assured me everything would be fine and that my friend would
get his surgery before I arrived to the hospital. Michael continued to call the
embassy to update them on the progress and the embassy would call me so that I
wouldn't have to worry. Michael was an incredible
stranger. Maybe it was just being decent, but the volunteer organization wasn't
doing ANY of what he did. I am not saying my friend, whose name is Demik by the
way, would have been left for dead without him, but that's something I'll never
have to find out.
Please join us this season in committing acts of kindness for others, not only in honor of our son Theo, but in memory and honor of your loved ones as well. Remembering and honoring those we love who have died should be part of the everyday lives of the living. The holiday season, traditionally a time of giving, provides us so many opportunities to do just that.
Sometime between now and Christmas, commit a random act of kindness. It doesn't have to involve money. You can send your kindnesses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or for Jamie's colleagues and students, to his VCU email account. You can also leave a comments directly on the blog with your kindnesses if you like.
We will post your stories of kindness here in Theo's Stocking so that we can all share in the Spirit of Giving and Kindness.
This Christmas will be our eighth Christmas without our beautiful boy, Theo. Theo died of a brain tumor on February 20, 2006. This Christmas, were he here, he would be 8 years and 8 months old. Everyone who knew him, who saw him, who spent time with him, knew how special he was. Many people who did not know him, who never met him, also know and have been deeply touched by his life. This blog is meant to honor his contribution to all our lives.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Rainer Maria Rilke
Normal is someone you don’t know very well. Anonymous
What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved, we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us. Helen Keller
When you are going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill
Grief is like manure, if you spread it out it fertilizes, if you leave it in a big pile it smells like crap. Tom Golden, LCSW
Bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. C.S. Lewis
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Albert Einstein
Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance. Richard von Weizsaecker
Who better to softly bind up the wound of one, than he who has suffered the same wound himself? Thomas Jefferson
An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to remain silent. Edmund Burke
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable. Anne Morrow Lindbergh
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power...they are messengers of unspeakable love. Washington Irving
The conventional explanation, that God sends us the burden because He knows we are strong enough to handle it, has it all wrong. Fate, not God, sends us the problem. When we try to deal with it, we find out that we are not strong. We are weak; we get tired, we get angry, overwhelmed. We begin to wonder how we will ever make it through all the years. But when we reach the limits of our own strength and courage, something unexpected happens. We find reinforcement coming from a source outside of ourselves. And in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God is on our side, we manage to go on. Rabbi Harold Kushner
Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come. Rabindranath Tagore
A traveler can only journey through a dark forest half way before he begins to come out the other side. Chinese Proverb
The only cure for grief is action. G.H. Lewes
The risk of love is loss and the price of grief; but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love. Hilary Stanton Zunin
He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it. Turkish Proverb
The Aramaic word for death translates as: not here, present elsewhere. P.M.H. Atwater Lh. D
Everybody grieves when someone they love dies. But only people who mourn really heal and move on to live and fully love again….It’s powerful and it’s the only thing that works. Dr. Alan Wolfelt
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er fraught heart and bids it break. Shakespeare, Macbeth
We are all vulnerable to the unexplored. Talmud
We are all in this alone. Together. Lily Tomlin
Grief makes one hour ten. Shakespeare, King Richard II