Friday, March 6, 2009

Baby Ali

Photo courtesy of Stacie Lamotte

Most people who know me well, know that for the last 3 years I have been part of an online community. I have never been, in the past or present, part of any type of online forum before, and the thought of it really holds no appeal for me. How then, I have spent 3 years discussing everything from the most trivial and silly of things to serious life issues with a group of strangers in the virtual world, is really beyond me, but here I am.

Some of the members have made the leap from being virtual friends, known only by screen names and avatars, to becoming good friends IRL ("in real life" for those of you not schooled in the language of the internet). Together we have shared weddings and home purchases, pregnancies and births and every facet of life imaginable.

To say that group of women chatting with a huge degree of anonymity is always civil or polite is obviously totally unreal. This community has its fair share of troublemakers, and drama just like any others, but for the most part, the members are kind, intelligent women who are very sensitive to the needs of others.

I've seen these ladies from all across the country, and some beyond our borders, band together to help a needy lady throw together a lovely wedding when disaster has struck. I've seen them donate money, time and home-cooked meals for one member who was trying to cope with her young family as her husband battled cancer. I've seen them pitch in and give of themselves over and over, even when this kindness has been taken advantage of.

And now I've just been witness to another incredible demonstration of the kindness of others, even though it is born out of immense pain and sorrow.

Chelsea, is one of our newer members. Her husband was building them a beautiful home on Vancouver Island with his own two hands. They were expecting their first child. All of her dreams were coming true. And then, Chelsea and her husband got the first inkling that something was amiss. Via a routine ultrasound, Chelsea found out that her baby might perhaps have a club foot, and there were other indicators of a potentially more serious problem. Chelsea was trying to come to terms with the fears of all of the unknown, when her baby, a beautiful little girl they named Alexis (Ali), was born 9 weeks early.

It was apparent this little girl had some serious health issues, but she was a tremendous fighter. She battled through surgery after surgery to repair her feet and other problems that became obvious after birth. Chelsea devoted herself to her daughter, and moved from her home on the Island to Vancouver to be at the hospital day and night. Just when things would start to look up for Ali, there would be another setback... but she kept fighting. Chelsea was even given some encouragement that Ali just might be able to go home soon, and then the unthinkable happened. Ali's doctors, attempting to do a surgery on her larynx to facilitate her breathing discovered that it was not possible. Without this surgery, Ali will die. I'm not really sure of the exact details, and really they are not the point of this post. Yesterday we heard from Chelsea as she shared this most painful development in Ali's story, and told us only that she was going to take her daughter to the ocean to have even some fleeting moments of normalcy in Ali's last hours.

Last night a virtual vigil was being held online, as hundreds of women reached out to Chelsea and Ali across the internet, lighting candles and offering prayers, sympathy and support for this young mother in her darkest hour. Sometimes I have been embarrassed about my mini-addiction to this online community, but today I was so proud.

And, as my own baby fussed in the night, I was so thankful for his little cry. Thankful that I am not preparing myself to say goodbye to a beloved child. Thankful that even though this year hasn't been especially wonderful, that although we've battled some illness, when it comes right down to it, my children are ok. Thankful, again, that today I have been spared this kind of loss.

All I can do now is type through tears for Chelsea, and for baby Ali, and for all who have been touched by her little life.

Now go hug your kids.


letisha said...


Cody, Amanda and Kade said...

That absolutely breaks my heart. Thanks for the reminder that I need to be better...and hold my little man tight.
P.S. Saw Thyra tonight and she is a doll...:)

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