By COLLEEN LEDDY
This weekend has been a roller coaster of emotions for me—from the huge high as the Living Library unfolded into one of the most amazing events I’ve ever witnessed—to the depths of mental anguish when my sister-in-law Diane was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on Sunday.
I used to think Rabbi Kushner was right on the money when, ages ago, I read the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”
At first, the title kind of ticked me off. It kind of assumes bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. And, my attitude was: why should anyone be exempt from bad things? But Kushner dealt with that as I recall...sometimes there is no reason why bad things happen and it has nothing to do with God.
But when Diane was unexpectedly diagnosed, my immediate thought was, My God, that can’t be happening to her! Pure and simple, it just didn’t seem fair.
Diane is one of those people who quietly goes about her life doing good deeds, godly deeds even, without judging people, without broadcasting what she does, without looking for approval or affirmation—she just lives a life of service to others, from her family to her church to the broader community.
And as I sat there at the computer reading the email from my brother-in-law in shock and disbelief, I couldn’t stop crying. How could this magnificent woman be struck down? What kind of wacky world is this?
And then a wave of guilt overtook me. When was the last time I thanked Diane for the impact she’s had on my life—especially with parenting—and the role model she’s been for me? She’s been my moral compass, one I may not always follow, but one I know is there, pointing the right way to travel in life. I know I’ve never thanked her enough.
From the hand-me-down clothes she passed from her daughters to my children—even Ben wore Lisa and Megan’s baby clothes—to the strawberries she dipped in chocolate for their high school graduation open houses, Diane has been the poster child of generosity. From her readily responsive nature in mothering her babies to her respectful, gentle guiding hand—tempered with tolerance—when they were teens, Diane showed me the way.
As we fear what the future holds for her recovery from Monday’s brain surgery, I know one thing for certain, Diane has been a stellar role model for her daughters as well, as exemplified by her youngest daughter Janell’s willingness to participate in our Living Library and the speed with which Lisa and Megan rushed from Georgia to her side.
Her life of generosity is one I’d love to emulate...but I as I rush through life, I miss opportunities to be kind and giving on a daily basis. And, way too often, I don’t express the gratitude I feel for so many people.
I don’t mean this to sound like a cheap transition back to the Living Library, but the people who participated in that event are of the same ilk as Diane.
All the people who acted as Books (Lorene Whitehouse, Kathye Herrera, Deanne Henagan, Janell Ball, Stephanie Moore, Larry Weeks, Ryan Shadbolt, Pete Fallot, Brenda Wyatt, Zac Burrow, Kirk Thomas, Liz Stella, Emily Collins, Jean Hardy, Tommy McVay, Darwin Vandevender, Sybil Diccion, Robert Robertson, Ali Bani Mustafa, Pat Barrett, Jackie Green, Patsy Barrett, Theresa Pobanz, Karley Schmidt, Chelsea Howard, Jenni Lamb and Barb Sutherland) gave of themselves, put themselves “out there,” simply to increase understanding and tolerance in the world.
But all the people who helped in many other ways (Joyce Woerner, Sandy Emmons, Nate Grieder, Sam Majahrowski, Heather Walker, Kym Ries and all the student artists, Sheri Frost, Lori Drogowski, Janelle Thomas, Katelyn Joughin, Marcia Cole, Ken Fether and Amy Powers) also having my undying gratitude for making this event such a success.
It’s nice to know there are lots of Dianes in this world, but the one at Sparrow Hospital is pretty darn special. Please direct your thoughts, prayers and love that way to ensure she recovers from this ordeal.