As I mentioned, one of the hazards with being a hermit is that I don’t keep up with what is going on in the lives of the PTA members (otherwise known as “gossip”), but I also don’t see a lot of the people I’ve met and befriended along the way. Several years back, I was a Co-Leader for my daughter’s Brownie troop. Those of you who know me well probably realize how out of character such a position was for me…and it was. I loved helping out with my daughters troop, and the girls were fun, but I’m not “THAT” mom. I’m not the kind of mom that bakes, cleans, sews, cooks, gets the kids where ever they need to be…on time…neat….and in the case of my girls: with their hair neatly braided or coiled in whatever the latest and cutest hairstyle might be. Oh no. I’m the mom who is rushing around, yelling at the kids to get in the car, teasing them endlessly about being late and being left on the curb to fend for themselves, and I definitely don’t look like I’ve got it all together. Regardless, I was a Brownie leader with two other moms (who made THEIR jobs look far easier than I ever did!). These other two moms were my Godsend in many ways, as I could not have been troop leader without them. I felt that we became friends, and I trusted them completely. We ran the troop for 3 years, and then I realized I needed to move on or else I’d go completely insane. As a result, we parted ways, and as typically happens, we drifted apart. Occasionally I’d run into either one of them and we’d promise to get together for coffee, but it never happened, and I don’t blame anyone but myself – I should have called but I did not.
As you all know, my time is divided these days between being a wife and mom to writing – both this blog and the book that Amanda and I have been working on. I’ve also been planning for our UK trip and reveling in the fact that the band is touring. Admittedly my days are consumed with Duran Duran, at least my mornings have been, and I’ve completely forgotten about the outside world to some extent. I keep saying that it’s a great time to be a Duranie, with the sales on the album doing so well so far, and seeing that the band is indeed having another moment in the sun.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I received a phone call from the godmother to my children who also lives in our community and teaches at the kids’ school. She wanted to let me know some news that she’d received regarding one of the co-leaders children. Unfortunately, this young girl – who incidentally is the same age as my son (around 12, give or take a month or two) – was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. They are doing what seems to be pretty aggressive treatment, and while it’s very early in treatment (she is in the midst of her second week), she’s doing well so far. This family is wonderful – the father is a pastor at a very large church in our area and as such they have a great amount of support, which of course I’m thankful that they have. However, I would imagine that they’d gladly redirect all of that support elsewhere just to have a healthy child. Naturally, I could not have been more shocked, or shaken for that matter. This mom and I ran a Brownie troop together. At one point, she and her family lived down the street from me and I saw this little girl grow from a beautiful baby to a toddler, to a gorgeous 6th grader with everything to live for. It’s unreal to me that she’s fighting a brain tumor right now as I’m typing up a fan blog for Duran Duran.
For me, it was probably a very much needed wake up call back to reality. It’s so easy to live in this Duran Duran fantasy world at times, communicating with people online, but completely overlooking the people in my regular, normal life. I do have real friends in my real life that I tend to ignore at times just because the band is active and because these friends here just don’t get my fandom. The two moms I was a co-leader with (including Jessie’s mom) were among the VERY few that knew/know about my Duran Duran obsession in my home community. In fact, I was a co-leader at the time the band reunited and we were planning our convention. They chuckled at me as I excitedly told them about the convention, and probably downright laughed, but with love – not malice, when I told them I was going to Chicago to see the shows in 2005. Even so, I doubt they could really understand where I was coming from or why the band was so important to me. I think that’s part of the reason I retreat so carefully from forming close friendships here at home. There are just some things I’m not comfortable sharing about myself – my “obsession” with Duran Duran being one of them. I know I’m not the only one.
Interestingly enough, I have never seen a 12 year old young lady quite like Jessica. I can use her name because she has her own website and blog to keep everyone (strangers, family, and friends alike) updated on her treatment and progress. People have “liked” her facebook page that have never even MET Jessica, and there is good reason for that – read on. They are also asking everyone, everywhere, for their good thoughts and prayers. Yes, this family has an immense amount of faith (much more than I), but I don’t think good faith has to mean of a religious form. I believe in the power of positive thinking, and even if you don’t believe in God, that doesn’t mean you don’t pass on good thoughts for someone else, which is why I’m reaching out to anyone and everyone who reads this blog. Take a look at her website (it’s linked below), and if you feel comfortable “like” it. As soon as I heard about Jessica, or Jessie as we call her – I felt an intense need to do something. There’s very little that I can really do, to be honest – her family is being taken care of in many ways – but the one thing I *can* do is reach out to my own community of people and ask that you keep this young girl in your good thoughts. She’s only 12, and she deserves to grow up.
Jessie amazes me because she has more grace in her twelve year old body and heart than I’ll ever have. She is taking this situation and reaching out to people through her journey, both by her blog and by fundraising so that this doesn’t happen to other kids. She has a slogan that I absolutely love and will learn to live by: Never Ever Give Up (NEGU), and if that weren’t enough, she’s come up with another idea that I think she’s going to use for fundraising called JoyJars. (her middle name is Joy. She was very well named. :D) I really can’t wait to see how her idea evolves from here. I believe somewhere on her website (Her dad puts the content up on the website. As she puts it, she has the heart and thoughts and her dad types. :D) she says that these projects keep her mind on something other than the pain. To have such grace and energy…I can’t help but aspire to learn to be more like her.
I realize this blog doesn’t have a lot to do with Duran Duran per se, but it has everything to do with our real lives and how we fit it all in. Sometimes I’m a master at juggling everything. Sometimes I fail miserably. Right now I suppose I’m examining the situation, learning from my mistakes, picking the things that are most important back up and trying again, because that’s really all we can do.
If you are interested in reading about Jessica – her website is www.jessicajoyrees.com.