Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Opening Doors

I don't know who it was that said "every person is a door to a new universe," but that truth rings especially true tonight.

I love meeting new people. In LA, it's called "networking" but that's a disgusting term, and there is nothing human involved in that type of interaction. I hate networking - that fake, "what can you do for me" conversation where both parties one-up each other, and walk away feeling defeated, and desperate. Not my cup of tea.

I'm part of an online group for parents in LA. There are over 7,000 members, but only a few hundred post consistently. Having never met most of these women, I still feel I know them. We ask each other for advise on Pediatricians, diets, plumbers, books, etc. Every few months some of us get together, for dinner and drinks. It's an opportunity to meet the people behind the posts, the women who help or need help with their out-of-control toddler or crazy neighbor, their meatloaf recipe, and marital strife.

About a year ago, I read online that a mom was diagnosed with Leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. She had a baby girl about Froggy's age, and her Temple was hosting a day where people could sign up, swab their cheek and become a potential bone marrow donor. My friend and I volunteered and are now both on the registry. I was inspired by her, and how she managed to balance this devastating disease with motherhood.

Tonight at a gathering from this on-line group, I met the woman who is still fighting Leukemia. She's working on a documentary about her condition, and she was beautiful, and full of energy, and despite her lack of hair, it would be impossible to tell that she was sick. She said this is her second fight with Leukemia and her doctor explained that if she is diagnosed again, there is little hope for recovery. She was incredibly stoic, and said that at 41, she lived a full and happy life. Just in case, she was working on a photo montage for her daughter, something to remember her by.

I told her about Froggy and how I was inspired by her to become a bone marrow donor. She cried and said that as hard as it is to face death, she couldn't imagine having a child with a chronic condition, like CF. She was so brave and beautiful. And I thought, this is networking, where people come together to save lives, to share tears and say, "keep fighting," where we really are windows into the soul, and doors to a new universe.

Eating sushi and drinking Chardonnay, thirty women talked about preschools, soccer, religion, politics, careers, writing, Spanish immersion schools, life, death, close calls, vasectomies, birth control, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, desires, free time, creativity, love, books, friendships, literature, theatre, film, cancer and shoes.

We all have a story, lives that are complicated and beautiful, precious and awkward. I always walk away from evenings like tonight where I feel that with women like this in the world, we really will conquer all, Leukemia and CF, the terrible two's and expensive schooling. It's networking of the best kind - people looking out for other people... just because...to open up worlds, and in the end say, "even though I don't really know you, I know you and love you."

It reminds me of the Emily Dickinson quote, "That Love is all there is, Is all we know of Love"


Beverly said...

I'm so glad you got to meet thislady. As I read a couple of blogs on the internet, I'm amazed at the pain that some people go through and how they deal with it. Many have found their relief through blogs.

I'm glad, too, that I've had the opportunity to meet you here. When I look at Froggy and Ella, I just pray so hard for their futures.

Have a good day with your girl.

Anonymous said...

i love the way you describe this...and what a wonderful group. jcn

Anonymous said...

wow! wish I could join too!

haven't found anything like this here... maybe it *is* here, and I just haven't turned it up yet... so far, it has been a lot of "ladies who lunch", "ladies who hike" and "ladies who go to wineries"...