“All things great are wound up with all things little.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Oh loves, I try to start and the tears come but the words are slower. Where to even begin? I’ll go with the facts because they are concrete…My mama Stephanie Douglas has been in the ICU on life support since Sunday night after a bladder infection introduced a strain of e.coli into her blood stream and led to sepsis (blood infection) then pneumonia. I flew out the door in a panic when the hospital staff told me I needed to come and Chris rushed me to her on Prince Edward Island. When I got to the hospital in Charlottetown late Monday night the nurses told me it was too soon to talk about recovery and we just needed to try and make it through until the morning.
Chris had to turn around and drive back to the girls in Nova Scotia so I spent the night alone in the hospital watching the machine breathe for her, seeing my worst fears of the last year coming true. For four days I held her hand, read to her, and watched her breathe. I barely ate or slept but I talked with her incredible nurses, our friends that I haven’t seen since I left PEI as a teen almost 15 years ago and soaked up love and comfort at the home of one of my oldest friends. All week my fear was made manageable by the sweetness of being so loved by people who I thought had long forgotten us, the community I have found here, and the compassion of total strangers. Today they removed my mama’s breathing tube and she interacted with nurses for the first time in almost a week. They are hopeful she can now begin the slow process of recovering while friends and I try to help her access resources to support her in the coming months. I’m home for the weekend to pick up the girls before going back to the Island on Monday afternoon to start putting things in place.
As a daughter my choice seems easy-drop everything, go to my mom, do whatever is needed to see her safe. As a mother I have to balance my own care and the girls needs for stability and school. Since Chris was laid off again in December, as an entrepreneur I am now the sole source of income for my family. I am trying to be creative and find solutions on how to keep working so I can pay for everything when my brain feels so full of mama-worry. As I lay in bed last night I wondered if it was wise to share too much here then realized that this community has come with me through some of the easiest most joyful years of my whole life-it seems only right for me to listen to myself on how to build community and come here for comfort + ask for help finding a way forward. After all, what do makers do when things fall apart? We put the pieces together again in new and beautiful ways.
Since OMHG has made connections from all over the world many friends have asked how they can help beyond sending their love. I am sharing a few ideas here and asking for your brilliant minds to join me in the comments to come up with more.
1. You can donate directly to my mom’s recovery fund administered by her dear friends at CLIA (Community Legal Information Association of PEI)-these much-needed funds will help make sure she has a safe place to live, food to eat, and access to medication and care once she leaves the hospital.
2. Share your stories with my mama. While I was sitting in the hospital I remembered the story I wrote for my mom and submitted to the Watch Her Thrive book. Waiting terrifies me but action makes things less scary so I thought what if everyone who loves us, has contributed to our community, or wanted to join in shared art, photographs and personal stories of struggle, connection, friendship, and survival with each other through OMHG. It will give me time to figure out a plan for us while keeping the website going and bring us together as a community to understand that behind every entrepreneur and maker is a life full of stories. At some point we can make a book of the stories and sell it to help support my mom’s recovery + donate a percentage to the exceptional small provincial ICU ward that worked tirelessly to save her life. Submit your art, images & stories of hope, family, loss, community & living with mental or physical illness for my mama right here or existing contributors can use their post dashboard.
3. Become a member. Help me to keep our community a vibrant resource for creatives who want meaningful connection and support for their businesses even if I am unavailable by getting an annual or monthly membership to our forums then connect and collaborate with each other there. Nothing is more healing or inspiring then seeing us working together and your memberships + participation are OMHG’s most stable source of income.
Thank you to everyone who went out of their way to offer my mom and I love and support:
To the ICU staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital- the nurses I met who are taking such good care of my mom and are always willing to explain everything to me- Jill, Paul, Melissa, Angela, Mim & the others who I didn’t get to meet, Dr. Karunakara Naduhithlu Shetty whose expertise helped save her life, and the Respiratory Technicians Kate & Clay who kept her breathing and helped me understand the whirring devices and made everything so understandable, thank you for doing your work regardless of thanks, you will always be heroes to me no matter what happens from here.
To all my mom’s friends and old friends of mine who called, texted, visited and made sure I was safe, loved and fed on PEI-Lobie, Geoff, Michelle, Heather, Marian, Vicky, Megan, Kelly & more, you showed me that not only could I come home but that part of me never really left. Thank you for being family for my mom and taking care of her even when I wasn’t sure how + being there for me in so many ways this week.
To my sister-friend Dyana Valentine who somehow managed to have food from the cafe I haunted as a teen delivered to the ICU waiting room all the way from California after she called and I mentioned not having eaten in 48 hours-I love you and will never forget how you fed me when I couldn’t begin to think of doing it myself.
To lovely Jenelle, Joy, Marisa, Colleen, Darice, Genevieve, Karen, Nikki, Zoe, Shauna, Jenn, Geri and so many others who sent me love notes of encouragement that held me tight as any hug while they followed along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where I was reaching out for a lifeline. I love you and am always here to hold you steady in return.
I have the first of our #StoriesForStephanie, the longer version of the submission I wrote for Watch Her Thrive, ready to publish tomorrow & after that I hope we’ll have stories from our community to brighten the site. Maybe I should let OMHG go quiet for a bit but sharing stories is what makes me feel like I can take the little steps to make something beautiful for my mama & possibly others out of these sharp pieces in my hands & heart. More than anything this week taught me that all things great really are wound up with all things little.
If you have ideas, insight, want to send hugs or connect to help keep OMHG running while I am juggling, please meet up in the comments or forums-your little notes mean a great deal to me (& will to my mama too).