When a Mom’s Village Unites

The bond of motherhood is strong. Of course there’s a bond with our children, that goes without saying…but there’s also a bond amongst other mothers. Like a code…a look. We understand when we see a mom looking frazzled at Target as she disciplines her toddler or tries to console a screaming baby. We’ve been there mom, you’re doing good. Here’s a nod from me to you on to the hard job you’re doing. It’s tough. I relate.

But what about when something unthinkable happens? What if you feel like you can’t relate to what another mom is going through? Here in our city of Orlando, there’s a badly hurting mom and family, for a son, a brother, a friend. I don’t know this mom. I don’t know this seventeen year old young man whose story I am about to tell. My connection is being a colleague of the Dad, we both work for Coldwell Banker as Realtors. But I feel a connection to this family because I know what it feels like to be a parent and recipient of the most devastating news in regards to my child.

The only reason in me writing this is to ask for your help. Mom to mom. I know of a mom whose family needs help. I know of a family who needs a rally cry of strength behind them. I know what it feels like to have that support, even from strangers, and I want to give it to a family who needs it.

According to the fundraising site set up at YouCaring.com, 17-year old John Michael Night, suffered a devastating brain stem stroke on December 14, 2015 leaving him in what is medically referred to as Locked-In Syndrome (LIS). What that means is that this young, vibrant man, who had just signed a D1 scholarship to Mercer University to play lacrosse, is now only able to move his eyes to communicate. He’s cognitively aware of everything that is happening but does not have function of nearly all voluntary muscles in his body except for his eyes.

Life can change in an instant, I know, and I have literally thought of John Michael and his family almost constantly since hearing the news. I’ve been praying hard and pleading with God to help John Michael recover, and I’m re-living what it was like when we received devastating MRI results for our daughter Reagan.

My husband and I took to social media to let our friends and families know what the MRI results were for our daughter Reagan in April 2014, and it was the most awful thing we’ve ever had to convey. Below is what we wrote:

It is with a heavy heart full of sadness, hopelessness, and anger that I write this. The results of Reagan’s MRI came back yesterday to reveal damage in several areas of her tiny brain caused by her metabolic condition, GA-1. Even though we followed every direction, diet, and medication given by her doctors, all has been for nothing. Reagan may have dystonia as a result of the brain damage, and has been either sleeping or flailing uncontrollably in our arms or in her bed since yesterday afternoon. We are meeting with her doctors again this morning for more info, but we feel we have lost our baby girl and only a shell remains behind. We don’t know how we will go forward from here knowing the girl we were playing with on Tuesday at 6:39pm was taken from us the very next minute and will never return. I hate this, and I hate having to tell everyone this.

I can re-live those feelings and emotions. I remember every single moment of our hospital stay, every Dr. meeting. I remember the terrible things we were told as doctors told us what her test results meant medically. “She will never (name a milestone: smile, talk, learn, walk, eat)…” is all they kept saying.

Our faith in God had never been tested this much. Why? How? And seriously God, WHY are you making our family go through this? Those were my thoughts. Day in. Day out.

I remember waking up in the Ronald McDonald House every morning in complete unbelief my life had taken this drastic turn. But as a mom, you just keep putting one foot in front of another because your child needs you to. You need to be strong, but sometimes you need other moms to help hold you up. During that time, my friends and other moms I didn’t even know, held two fundraisers for our daughter to get the therapies she needed.

JM Strong
It’s been a year and a half since Reagan’s brain injury and she’s made lots of strides, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s been so hard, so expensive, so exhausting, so emotionally taxing. If you would have told me in April 2014 that my daughter would walk, talk, eat, smile, laugh, communicate, develop a fierce and determined personality, I would have never believed you. Our family is a year and a half out from our daughter having a massive stroke, massive brain damage and a hellish history. I want this mom, her son and their entire family to know that us local moms are behind her, praying for John Michael’s recovery. I want us moms to provide a surge of energy and fight to this family. Because when the days are difficult and the tears never seem to end, I want this family to remember the moms of Orlando, the moms who said YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. Even if you can’t relate, you are a mom, so you can empathize. You know the code, you know the look, you know the mom nod.

I am asking you to click here and donate, whatever you can, to John Michael’s recovery. If you were this mom, how moved would you be if the entire city of Orlando proclaimed they were #johnmichaelstrong24? How moved would you be to know that everyone in your community was loving on your family and your child? Let’s be that community for the Night family. For John Michael. Please…donate to this young man’s recovery. I can’t think of anything more important.

Click the links to follow John Michael’s journey on Instagram and Facebook and I’d encourage you to post something for John Michael to see.

#momsforJohnMichael #JohnMichaelstrong24 #JohnMichaelStrong

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2 Responses to When a Mom’s Village Unites

  1. Missy Mandato January 5, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    Wow wow wow!! Talk about being used by God! Thank you! Thank you for being transparent and willing to share!! I too met my husband at UCF and was a UCF cheerleader 85-89′. My heart goes out to you and yours and can’t imagine what your journey has been like. My son is a class mate of John Michaels and we are very close to his girlfriend- I have felt helpless and my mom heart has just been aching and in a state of prayer warfare since this happened!! Thank you for making such a compassionate plea and giving a tangible way for those of us to help!! Thank again!!

  2. Christine Anderson January 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    I found myself shaking my head in agreement as the tears streamed down my face thinking of you and your daughter Reagan, Vickie and her son John Michael, me and my son Lucas and all the other moms and children going through challenging times. I have experienced the power of Mom faith, Mom hope and Mom love as my son struggled through the devastating diagnosis of osteosarcoma (bone cancer). it’s hard to explain or comprehend, but the power generated by loving moms is immeasurable. It literally kept me standing through the toughest times. I cry every time I receive communion, because I have this vision of my sons funeral mass where every single person on the alter, serving communion, was a member of the most beautiful collection of moms, teachers and angels on Earth that lead loved my son. Each of this ladies represented a piece of my shattered heart. Their love was the glue that gave me the strength to put my life and the lives of my other 3 children, back together. I swore that day that I would honor my son by paying it forward. I want you to know that I am your glue, Anne-Marie. I want Vickie to know that I am her glue too. There are countless Moms across the world sharing your burdens, worries, hopes, dreams and successes. I hope you can feel the faith, hope and love we’re generating because there is no stronger bond than motherrs and their children. Life with Lucas was and amazing journey. May God bless your journey too.

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