I'm participating in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge again this year. Today's post is brought to you by the letter W.
It's easy to read the news or see go fund me pages posted all over and ignore them. Or maybe you don't ignore them, but you aren't affected by the struggle you're reading about. It's something we all do. In our over-informed world, we are desensitized. Not only that, it's just human nature to not fully understand something until you've experienced it yourself. I struggle with feelings of self loathing when I hear news about something awful happening and don't feel moved by it. But I suppose the alternative would be even worse. Being hyper sensitive to everything that goes on in the world would make life unbearable. Because for all the great things to see and be a part of, it's the bad stuff that gets the most exposure.
Several months ago, I was absentmindedly scrolling through local go fund me pages. It was around the time of the UCC shooting and I had originally been looking for victim funds that had been set up. In my scrolling, I found a page for a 4 year old boy with cancer. Normally I would just go on past, but something told me to check it out, so I did. I read the little bio about the boy and what his family was facing with his diagnosis. Then I saw the pictures and saw a familiar face. My husband's ex-wife.
I'd like to stop and say that I have made crude jokes and statements at her expense in the past. Why not, right?! She is my husband's ex wife, after all, and that's the natural order of things: new wife dislikes ex wife, asserts her superiority by degrading her predecessor, and all is balanced and right with the world. All of this came from not knowing her personally, but knowing what my husband knew and feeling the pain he felt at the way their marriage ended. My only knowledge was secondhand, but from a trusted source, so I felt justified in despising this person I had never met.
Then I saw that her son had cancer.
My heart rose into my throat and I felt a strong sense of sympathy for her and her family. After years of bitterness and anger, even my husband found himself feeling sorry for her situation and with his hard edges softened, mine softened, too. Without a lot to spare, I made a small donation, but chose not to do so anonymously. I did that because I wanted her to know it was from me, the wife of her ex husband. I wanted her to see that support comes from a lot of places and that we wished her well. Me, this person she has never met, but she would expect to dislike her, wanted to help somehow.
I follow the facebook page that was set up to keep people informed of the little boy's journey and how the family is doing. Time and time again I have considered reaching out, but I don't know if that's smart. Even with the best intentions, I imagine it would be super awkward for everyone else. (Not for me b/c I'm immune to awkward.) I just feel something intangible pulling me to offer more support than I have with my puny donations. My husband prefers that I keep a distance because of the experience he has had with his ex in-laws, so out of respect, I've kept things down to a status "like" here or a repost of the go fund me page there.
I think the biggest point of this post was a sort of passive "hey, if you spy on my fb page, read this" kind of shout-out to my husband's ex. If she were to read this, I'd want her to know that I hope for the very best for her and her family. I'd want her to know that I would never wish what she's going through on my worst enemy and that the grace and positive attitude with which she's handling it all is awe-inspiring. I'd want her to know that we're unlikely allies, but allies none-the-less. That whenever I go to the market by my house that has the donation jar, I drop what extra I have in there. And that whenever I pray, I send one up for her son. I want her to know that I hope everything works out and that one day she won't have to worry about how dangerous it would be for her son to catch the latest flu bug floating around or having to juggle her attention between a healthy child and a sick one. I would want her to know that people are rooting for her little fighter in the most unlikely places.