Archives for posts with tag: gratitude

Welcome. For those of you who are new, read on. For those who are returning for updates, scroll down…

I’m taking a short break from writing about my travels across Spain to continue with the Jeanette story, otherwise known to this website as “An Assault in Venice.” To read the story from my perspective, you can start here.

To donate to the Jeanette Facial Surgery Fund via PayPal, click the button below.










You do not have to have a PayPal account to donate. All donations, large and small are not just happily accepted, they are gratefully received.

I will, through this website, give periodic updates regarding the amount of donations received, as well as details of the surgery, which is scheduled for March 15, 2012.

UPDATE 1

I got good people! Such good people. That’s not a surprise. The outpouring has been nourishing and lovely. I’m ever so grateful.

Within minutes of me blasting out my email about Jeanette and asking for donations, they began magically appearing.

Amy responded nearly on the heels of me clicking the send button and responded simply with “Done.” And then, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to help Jeanette in some small way.”

Many of you wrote that to me…

From Laura: “Thanks for this opportunity to help Jeanette.”

From Kristie: “God bless you for doing this for all of us.”

From JoDee: “Thank you for the update and for the opportunity to help make Jeanette’s life a little easier.”

From Jill: “You both have my support.”

Robbyne wrote, “This is such an issue for me, our lack of decent health care in this country.”

From Deb: “God bless you, Tess, for documenting, believing, supporting and championing Jeanette.”

From Melissa: “Anything for you.”

Others simply donated without acknowledgment. Marisa, Maureen, Forest, Gale, Kara, Pete, Sarah, John in Wisconsin and John in New York. David, whom I sadly haven’t had contact with in far too long also gave to Jeanette without hesitating. And that is just so beautiful to me, that despite time and distance, the tether remains. Strong.

Kristie, who’d not read the blog when I first posted it last year, sent an email followup, and it’s too priceless not to include here.

I didn’t want to start reading your story at work. I knew it would affect me. But like an alcoholic who thinks s/he can put a bottle of Jamison on the table and stare at it, but resist it, I opened your blog page and then minimized it. What happened? I closed the door to my office, put a note on the door that said “on extended break”, un-minimized the blog, and read the whole thing. And when I was done I had a good cry. At first out of sadness, then out of sheer beauty. The beauty of a cop, a surgeon, an attorney, a politician’s aide, a friend, a stranger, a dog. All who came in to offer their assistance in the ways they knew how or felt would be most beneficial.

I hope a million people send money or if they can’t afford money, a good thought. A blessing. Because maybe, just maybe, if enough strangers can rally, we can collectively undo a bit of damage that a single stranger did.

Delightful.

As of this morning, you all have contributed $1,100!

Thank you doesn’t really begin to express it.

More. Soon.

UPDATE 2

Well, almost exactly a week ago I sent out an email blast. And we’ve just crossed the 2K mark. I believe the tally today stands at $2100 and that’s including a few checks that have arrived to my mailbox.

And the emails keep coming.

John from Wisconsin wrote of the blog I wrote laying out my view of the tale: “Thanks for putting it into words which turned it into such real, real life.”

From Richard, simply: “Check is in the mail.”

Brad wrote: “Thanks for making a difference for Jeanette.”

From Dena: “Thanks for including us in your email blast. We are happy to help out your friend.”

From Maureen Mary Margaret: “Your heart is forever in the right place.”

Stephanie quickly wrote a check and handed it over. As did my sweet parents. Lauren handed me cash over dinner last night.

Amy in Santa Monica wrote: “Please send my love to Jeannette and thank her for allowing you to share this horrific story.”

Steve, with the fantastically sweet heart filled with heartache wrote: “Thank you for taking up Jeanette’s most worthy cause in a rancid society that simply doesn’t take care of its own.”

From Forest: “My heart goes out to your friend.”

David’s note really got me. He’s the guy from the last update who blew me away with a donation since years had passed and we’d had no contact.

Your request for Jeanette came at a moment when my giving was really an act of healing for me so thank you for reaching out and giving me the opportunity to participate in some small way to a very loving and significant thing.

My heavy heart is centered on the crossroads that the Literature to Life program has reached. While we have built a nationwide and truly worthy arts and education initiative, we have run into that brick wall of funding problem. It is truly remarkable that something so good and so necessary can lose support is mind boggling but if you break it down between the usual suspects, the economy, the schools lack of funds, the arts, etc. You see where I’m going. Dig a bit deeper and you come to a myriad of problems all around.

All in all I feel very responsible for the company and for one of the first times in my life I feel mostly helpless.

So you see reaching out to you and your heartfelt request was a concrete act that very simply makes sense. So thank you. I sincerely hope the surgery goes well and Jeanette continues to recover.

UPDATE 3

I’m in a very different place as I write this update. Jeanette is now six days into her recovery from surgery. We’ve had a difficult, beautiful, painful, glorious time. Yesterday her bandages came off and she looks better today, even with the swelling, than she did when she arrived.

The donations keep coming. I love that. She struggles with that. It’s hard to receive, that’s all. Word has gotten out, past my circle of friends and into hers, and so now donations are coming from people I don’t know. I’d still like to acknowledge you all and I’ll do the best I can…

Lloyd, Hank, Lorraine, Ellen, Michael, Susan, Mary, Elizabeth, Sarah, Max, Amy, Tim, Elizabeth and Melissa…

In the meantime, I got this email from Jeanette’s niece, Sarah, who writes beautifully. I got permission to include this part of gorgeous email:

Thank you for putting together the fund, and for offering my Aunt a place to stay after her surgery.

When I think about the attack, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of father taking down the suitcase from the attic so my mother could pack. She came and sat on my bed and told me that Aunt Net was hurt, and that she was flying to California immediately. I was 11. I walked to school in blue jeans and a blue denim vest that day and felt like I should be sad. I was worried, but I couldn’t sum up the emotion that the event deserved. I think I wasn’t ready to be that sad.

Now I’m sitting on the couch in my first grown-up apartment, and I think about being with her and growing up with her in my life since then. There were slices of hot cheesy pizza on the porch, drives in her little Volkswagon, discussions about feminist politics, long-distance telephone calls about the people we’re in love with, countless trips to movies and plays and museums, steaming mugs of chai in a cafe in Dupont Circle. I’m so glad she made it through that attack, because I love her so much and I can’t imagine who I would be with out her. I’m deeply sad that she’s still hurt. So thanks very much for setting up the fund, I’m honored to contribute.

Today I sent out a follow-up email to the friends of mine who have contributed. Here’s an edited version of it:

Jeanette arrived last Tuesday night for what was to be, literally, a reopening of old wounds. On Wednesday, we drove to Santa Barbara. Dr. Keller’s entire office staff has changed since last we were there but they all proved to be just as sweet and accommodating as the last group. A plastic surgeon runs a boutique business, and so bedside manner is a lot of the experience. They can afford to coddle you and take as much time as you want to feel comfortable. It was a little like being at a spa, oddly, but then I wasn’t the one having anything done. Photos, consultations, conversations. Basically, Dr. Keller was just going to get in there, and then decide what was to be done.

I’d rented a guesthouse near the beach that I found on airbnb.com. If you don’t know about that site, check it out. I wanted a freestanding structure with a yard that was close to the beach, all things I thought Jeanette would like. The place I found was perfect.

On Thursday morning, we took a stroll on the beach. The morning light was magical. As we spoke about this horrid event that had happened to her 13 years ago, I’d mentioned that it seemed like a lifetime ago. In the magical morning light, she expressed that she didn’t have that luxury—that the daily-ness of the injury was an ongoing presence in her life. And always would be.

When we got to the office for the surgery on Thursday, Dr. Keller said that the anesthesiologist was still there, and he could easily stay for Jeanette’s surgery if we wanted him to. It would be an additional $400, though, he said. And this is really the point. If the additional expense were coming out of her pocket, she might have evaluated it more carefully. In no way did she want to have to endure the surgery awake, but the debate of being practical vs. emotional would have played out differently. Because of all the support, she didn’t have to have the debate. She only had to experience the relief of letting go of her fear.

It’s hard receiving. It’s harder for some people to receive than to give. It’s been hard for her to receive all this generosity but it has made all the difference in her experience of this, her 10th? 15th? surgery. We tried to count them.

And the thing is, both Dr. Keller and the angelic anesthesiologist, Dr. LaGrange, said after the surgery, “It’s a good thing she wasn’t awake for that.” When they got in there, there was so much scar tissue on the right side of her face that they had trouble getting the old implant out. What was supposed to be an hour surgery was two and a half hours. They got it all out, a new implant went in, and they took fatty tissue from her belly and put it in her cheek to fill it all in.

It’s now six days later and she’s still swollen, but she looks better today than she did when she arrived last week.

I just wanted you to know that it’s been a tough, beautiful, life-affirming week over here. And I simply can’t thank you enough for helping me through it. I know that most of you gave money to Jeanette because I asked you to. It’s been a lesson in receiving for me, too. And it has been no small thing, believe me. The attack she endured will never be “a lifetime ago” for her. But making every step slightly less painful is really quite stunning. Thank you, from the top to the bottom of my heart, thank you, for being present in my life and loving me through these moments when I/we most need your love and support.

(This story is part of a continuing series based on my adventures walking 500 miles across Northern Spain on the ancient pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago. The first part begins here.)

March 23, 2005
Day 24: Sarria to Hospital de la Cruz, 38.1 km/23.7 m

I was eager to hit the road early after a night of too many people. I’d grown accustomed to the desolation of the Camino, to a limited selection of familiar faces, to the nothingness of the trail and the idleness of thought upon it. So now, as the number of pilgrims swelled, I was resisting their intrusion. I judged the people around me as being drawn to the novelty of the Camino not the work of it, the weariness, the unending boredom. How could you truly experience the Camino—and come face to face with either the emptiness of yourself or the fullness—if you traveled like a touring group of hikers on a weekend camping excursion?

I judged them, yes, but I also recognized that we each get the Camino we need. I just wanted mine to be less crowded. I’d also wanted it to be warmer and drier, but as I dressed, I could already hear the rain pattering the rooftop.

Way2Porto
I started early enough to escape the masses, and I slipped back into the comfort of my solo trek. The rain was steady and growing ever more insistent but, coupled with the fog and the clouds and the mesmerizing rhythm of my footsteps sloshing through the rolling terrain, I was overcome with gratitude for the beauty of nature and all its many expressions. I hadn’t expected it to rain too hard or too long so I’d neglected to put on my waterproof socks. That was a mistake. Because soon enough, the rain came with such ferocity that I felt like I was walking under the nozzle of a firehose.

bootsAs the hours passed without a moment’s pause, the magic drowned, and once again it was a walk of endurance. The conditions were testing both my body and my gear. I worried that the “waterproof” label on my pack was a false promise so I found shelter under a canopy of trees and secured everything first in ziplock bags, then inside plastic. My shoes of course were soaked through, and my feet were sodden. And even though my pants and jacket were still managing to shield me, they clung to me with a penetrating clamminess that made me feel drenched regardless.

After four hours, I was, quite simply, miserable.
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(This story is part of a continuing series based on my adventures walking 500 miles across Northern Spain on the ancient pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago. The first part begins here.)

March 26, 2005
Day 27: Arca to Santiago, 20.7 km/12.9 m

I woke up in my beautiful haven in Arca do Pino to hear rain pounding the pavement outside. Rain. I pulled back the curtain, and sure enough, the sky was seething. I gathered up my waterproof gear and wondered whether I should start building an ark.

My last day on the trail would prove to be just as challenging as my first. I had started my journey by slogging through thigh-high snow, and I was ending it by traversing a monsoon.

The first few miles took me through forested land that was simply magical through the veil of rainwater and foggy mist. I could hear only the patter of the rain, a symphony, along with my feet, slurping with each step as rivers of mud rushed to fill the indent of my footprints. It was beautiful, soulful music to accompany my quietude.

under the bridge
What began as a patter soon grew to drumbeats, and just when I thought the rain couldn’t pound any harder, it did. It was downright Biblical, making my trek to Portomarin look like arid terrain. And, truth be told, as the hours passed, this Spanish water torture was starting to get to me. At just under 13 miles, this was one of my shortest travel days, but the road seemed so endless and arduous in the unyielding flood. I kept telling myself that I was almost there. I kept coaxing my feet to carry me forward, which they did, under duress. They were so ready for rest. So ready.
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