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That's the dilemma I'm trying to sort out at the moment and I need some help.
As I have mentioned before, we live in a different country than our family does. Most of the time it's not a huge deal. We email, chat on facebook, and even talk 'face to face' on Skype. But when tragedy strikes, you really feel the distance.
When we got the news that our son had died and I was going to be delivering him 3 weeks early, stillborn, I felt that distance like I never had before. I don't even know what time it was back in California when I had to make the call to my parents to give them the news. I know that I woke them up though. I could hear the sleepy confusion in their voices as I repeated the news a second time. That phone call that none of us ever want to get. Especially in the wee hours of the morning. Especially so many miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Especially when there's nothing we can do at that moment.
If I'd lived in the US I know that my whole family would have hopped into their cars and rushed to my side. I wouldn't have had to spend that last night of my pregnancy with just my husband. I wouldn't have had to make those first phone calls cancelling my nursery furniture delivery which was scheduled for the next day. The day that I would now be delivering my angel.
So I reached out to a friend here in London for help. I've only been in London for 5 years and I've known this particular friend for less than 2. But I made the call because there were things that needed to be done and I didn't have the strength to do them. When I called her I simply asked her to do a couple of things for me. I needed her to call the shop where I bought the nursery furniture and find out if I could cancel the order and get a refund. I also asked if she could call the shop where I got some of the other large items like the baby buggy (stroller) and baby swing and find out if those items could be returned even though I had taken them out of the box and put them together. For me it wasn't so much about the refund as it was about trying to figure out what to do with the items. I figured that if I had that information, then once I got home from the hospital, I could start figuring out what to do with everything else.
What she did next was nothing short of amazing. Not only did she contact the stores for me, but she made arrangements for the items to be both collected from my house and refunded. I addition she organized a few of my friends to go over to my house to box everything up and get it sent back before I got home. She scoured the high street for spare boxes to put the items in and then helped to pack them up. She supervised as my friends combed through my place, removing all traces of baby items. I can't imagine having to come home empty handed to a house full of baby things, so this step was especially welcomed.
She emptied my fridge of unwanted left-overs before they spoiled. She called to cancel my house cleaners, hair appointments, a pedicure, and even my bikini wax. You see, I had made all those appointments in preparation for the birth and to have to cancel them would have been absolute torture for me.
But she didn't stop there. A couple of days after I gave birth, my mother came over to help with my recovery. My wonderful friend also stepped in to help my Mom out. She walked my Mom through the online grocery delivery website, helped her find the hospital that we were staying at, and even called to check in on her from time to time. The two of them took turns waiting on the delivery men to come and take away all the baby gear. But it was my friend who was the driving force behind everything. She stepped in the way a family member would.
And remember, this is someone I've only known for a couple of years. Someone who is a wife and mother of two small boys. Someone who has a very busy life but somehow managed to make time to be there for me when I needed it most.
I thanked her profusely at the time, but now I'm feeling like that wasn't enough. But how to do you properly thank someone for doing something so amazing? Is it possible to thank her enough? Nothing I could ever say would ever express how much what she did meant to me and my family. But I want to do something. So here's what I've come up with and I'd love your input.