Aug 17, 2011

A Prayer for Willem

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. The kids left for and came back from their last summer visit and I always go a little nutty when they're gone. It's hard to write when your inspiration is three states away.

This blog is a little different from most in that I'm not really talking about me or my family -- but I hope that you will stick with it and read all the way through.


I don't pray. I know that's a terrible thing to admit to but, there it is. I'm not going to say I don't ever pray -- I do have occasional "conversations" with God in my head -- my "Are you there God? It's me, Andrea." moments. But to actually "pray" -- that's just not me. I don't know if it's that I don't believe in the power of prayer -- I believe that many other people believe in it. I don't know if it's that I don't feel that God and I are close enough that I can ask Him for favors. I don't even know what version of "God" I believe in -- if any. I guess I believe in some sort of a higher power but I'm not entirely sure what His or Her function is and whatever They're doing -- S/He has better things to do than take requests from me. If God really is the Master of the Universe than I imagine He's got a plan and I've really got no business sticking my two cents in asking for a change. Father knows best.

As most of you know, I'm a bit of a Facebook addict and one of the things I find most annoying is all the people who "claim" to be praying for this cause, this person, this situation. I'm willing to stake a fair amount of my bank account that a lot of those people who are "praying" for this, that, or the other -- the extent of that prayer was typing the message into the Facebook status or comment bar. That irritates the hell out of me. When people ask for prayers, or put out into the Facebook world that they're going through some trying times -- the most they'll get out of me is a genuine, "Sending good thoughts your way."

So, just so you know, I'm not one of "those people" who are out there asking for prayers all the time. Until now.


This is a story about Erin, and Thomas, and, most importantly, their son Willem. I'm going to give my version of "background" on these key players.


I "met" Thomas in that peculiar way strangers meet on Facebook -- through a friend's post. My friend Scott had posted something about... something... that started a very interesting thread. Somewhere along that thread, Thomas made some little esoteric comment using a $5 vocabulary word. Being a bit of a wordy myself, I commented how impressed I was that he (a) spelled the word correctly, and (b) used it properly in a sentence. Trust me -- this isn't something that happens too often in my Facebook threads. One thing led to another and before I knew it -- Thomas had friended me. Since any friend of Scott's is a friend of mine, I accepted.

Being of a curious nature I eventually clicked over to Thomas's Facebook page to find out a little more about my new friend and I notice he's married to Erin. Wait! I know Erin!


I met Erin years ago in the post college debauchery that was my life in my early twenties. She too was a friend of Scott's (apparently Scott has all the cool friends). She was probably the coolest girl I knew. She was smart, creative, funny, introspective. She was stylish. Her home felt like a home -- not a crash pad like mine and everyone else I knew. I remember she had this quaint little wrought iron bistro set as her kitchen table. Her sofa had throw pillows. It smelled good. Erin carried herself with this quiet confidence that I envied. She could wear bright red lipstick and not look like she was trying too hard or the town slut. Oh hell, I'll just say it. Erin was my first girl-crush.

I quickly (giddily) sent Erin a friend request on Facebook and -- through her wall -- read a little about her life. She was married, had three kids, and still seemed like the cool, stylish, creative, funny chick I remember from the 90s.

Thomas & Erin

These two have a love that I am inspired by. It's quiet, respectful, and so so very obvious. To the point that, just about two years ago I was answering one of those stupid little Facebook quiz thingies (I can't seem to help myself even though I know they are trite) and one of the questions was, "Who inspires you?" I listed a few people, including Thomas and Erin. Later, Thomas emailed me asking how so? Two people, one of whom I've never met, and one I haven't seen in years, how do I find inspiration there?

My response: "You guys inspire me in that your love and respect for one another is a true and beautiful thing. It's not hearts and flowers and big fancy words... it's you worrying about her cleaning out the gutters and her missing you because you haven't been there to see what seems to be all of [your daughter's] teeth fall out. It's your concern about her driving in the weather, and her pride in what you are doing."

"I like the simple and sweet messages you leave for each other on Facebook. I think what you have with each other is what love should be all about. And it inspires me."

As a little side note -- Thomas recently re-upped into the military. He is due to ship out to Afghanistan in the near future. We should all be proud of Thomas's patriotism and admire his commitment to his family and our country.


Thomas and Erin's oldest child is Willem. Again, have never met this child and only know him via his parent's Facebook posts. Yes. I admit it. I stalk them. Harmlessly but I suppose I do. I find that I comment on most of their posts, and follow their lives voyeuristically -- but don't we all use Facebook for that?

Willem is an adorable little mop-topped kid with his mother's eyes. He's around the same age as Quinn. They seem very similar in temperament. They have a lot of the same interests. Quinn once checked out a picture of Willem fencing and was all, "Coooool! Who is that??" I told him he was the son of a friend of Mama's and he asked, "Can he be my friend?" They like Legos and Star Wars and are both skinny little brunettes. I wish we didn't live 2 hours away from Erin and Thomas and their kids because I think our sons could be very good friends, as could our daughters.

About 3.5 weeks ago Erin posted on Facebook, "Willem threw up his retainer. That was fun getting out." I laughed. Been there done that.

A few days after that she posted something about how Willem was still not feeling too hot and was worried he wasn't going to be able to go to camp. Having been through something similar with Quinn a year ago, I know how it hurts to watch your child worry they won't be able to do something that you have no control over. I thought, "Poor kid. I hope he feels better soon." And went on with my day.

A day or two after that Erin posted that she as taking Willem to the ER. Okay. This isn't minor anymore. This is heading in to the scary territory. I started paying a whole lot more attention to Erin and Thomas's Facebook pages. Normally I just limit myself to what's on my newsfeed but I found myself going directly to their pages for updates. Willem was admitted to the hospital from the ER. Then they kept him another night. And another night. Then he was being transferred to the children's hospital. Erin and Thomas were meeting with infectious diseases experts. Willem had a "team" assigned to him. He was transferred to ICU.

Holy. Shit.

Quinn came up to me as I was reading an update about Willem on his father's blog. Being a sensitive child well tuned to his mother's moods, he asked me what was wrong. I told him the "boy who fences" was very sick and that Mama was worried about him and sad for his parents. Quinn said he would say a prayer for him. This made me smile. As neglectful as I am in my own religious path, I have at least instilled some level of spirituality into my children.

I began to fanatically watch the blog for updates. No one was exactly sure what was wrong with Willem. Willem spent his birthday in the hospital. He was ventilated. He was sedated. And I found myself starting to have one of my "conversations" with God. Nothing organized or concrete -- more of a "these are good people and I would really appreciate it if you could help them out" kind of thing.

Willem had a GI scope. He had a bone marrow test. I saw a whole lot of diseases being posted on Thomas's blog and Facebook page -- diseases that had initials for names and couldn't easily be researched on Gastroenteritis. Typhoidal Tularemia. Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS). Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).

Holy. Shit.


A check of Thomas's blog this morning shows that Willem is still on a ventilator and is being aggressively treated for HLH. Which brings me to you, dear Reader. I'm asking you to take a moment today, right now, stop what you are doing and say a prayer, send a good thought, happy vibe, whatever you've got, to Erin and Thomas and Willem. These are good people. And, while no one deserves to watch their child go through this -- I especially don't want these people, these good, loving, caring people, to go through this. Please.

I don't know if I believe in the power of prayer, but I believe it can't hurt. And I'd like to believe it would help. So please. Say a prayer for Willem.


  1. I believe in the power of prayer Andrea, I am one of those that if I post it, I do it. So I will.

  2. Thank you. Both of you. Here's to hoping it works. :-)