GUEST POST: Blogger Council member Courtney Westlake of Blessed by Brenna.
It started with a dinner…a feast, more accurately…with food from MCL Cafeteria piled high in the waiting room right outside of the NICU entrance, carefully unpacked from to-go containers by three of our closest friends on the first night I was able to visit my daughter Brenna in the hospital after she was born with a rare skin disease.
And then it grew, first from friends and family and then from strangers across the country. After Brenna’s birth and subsequent 5-week hospital stay, help began pouring in for our family in all forms, even in ways that we didn’t know we needed.
As Brenna’s lifelong condition has handed us many ups and downs, with surgeries, hospitalizations and illnesses, the support we have received from others has remained stable.
The kindness we encountered during our journey of praying for our daughter’s survival, bringing her home and watching her fight through many obstacles is still completely overwhelming and humbling to me, 15 months after her birth. From friends cleaning our house and doing our laundry, to family members babysitting our son Connor during hospital visits, to strangers sending money to help pay for medical needs, to someone dropping off a cup of my favorite coffee from Starbucks…generosity and thoughtfulness was alive everywhere we turned.
Not only did Brenna prove to be an inspiration to our family, and to so many others, but others became an inspiration to us. Because of the community outreach, we have learned what it truly means to be empathetic, to be generous, to put yourself in someone’s shoes and give of yourself in ways that you would want to be treated in the same situation.
Brenna has taught us so much in her short 15 months on this earth. But there are other lessons that have been instilled into our family during that time as well, as shown to us by the kindness of others.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the mundane of daily life – the schedules to adhere to, the dinners to make, the commitments to keep. But there are few things more important in life than helping another person, whether it’s giving your time, your money or simply a heartfelt note to say you’re thinking of them with words of encouragement. I will tell you firsthand how much a thoughtful gesture or message can lift up someone in need, to give them the strength to keep going or change their attitude to a positive one.
For us, help began with a meal…and will be carried on forever as we strive to continue the circle of kindness that others showed to our family.