A Calling

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, work had gone so smoothly and successfully, and yesterday, I caught myself focussing on the fear of that being a fluke.

Then I went on Facebook.

And saw a post from Emily, a fellow Beth Israel NICU-Mom that I had befriended when our boys were in the hospital.

Emily and her family had a longer stay than us – starting with hospital bedrest many weeks before she delivered her triplets, and not really ending until many months after her boys arrived, as one of her three was readmitted to intensive care shortly after coming home.

In these short, long years since, Emily and her husband have continued to share such pure gratitude for the on-going health of their three handsome, lovely miracles.

I always love seeing her posts.  Pictures of the boys.  Snippets of their time in school, with family and friends…but last night something else:

While on a training run for the Boston Marathon in support of the Beth Israel Deacon Medical Center NICU, Amanda Turner Russell was struck by a car and later succumbed to her injuries. I met Amanda by chance in Hanover when I was pregnant with the boys. In a casual conversation it came up that Amanda was a labor and delivery nurse at Beth Israel where the boys were to be delivered. She promised to look for my name around mid-August, my goal for delivery.

Several weeks later, well before mid-August, I was admitted to Beth Israel hospital with preeclampsia. Randy and I were terrified…Once I was settled in my room, Amanda’s name came back to me and I asked the day nurse if someone named Amanda from Hanover was working… Amanda was working that night and had agreed to take me on her assignment. 

Amanda came in to check on my shortly after her shift started. I was so happy and relieved to see her smiling face walk through that door… Amanda assured me everything was going to be okay and that we would get my blood pressure down. Her confidence gave me the encouragement I needed. 

I was attached to an automatic blood pressure cuff that took a reading every 15 minutes. It had an awful, distinctive alarm when the reading showed high blood pressure and every 15 minutes, for hours, that alarm went off. Before Amanda went to check on her other patients I asked if I could have something to drink but she told me I was under strict orders not to have anything to eat or drink for at least 24 hours. 

Eventually Randy fell asleep, but I could not…Finally, sometime late, late into the night, I got the reading I had been hoping for – 120/80. No alarm. 

A few moments after that reading Amanda came in the room with a huge smile on her face and a cup in her hand. “Did you see that last reading?” she asked? With tears in my eyes, I told her I had. “You did it!” she said. “I brought you a congratulatory drink!” She had brought me a cup filled to the brim with ice and just the tiniest splash of cranberry juice poured over it. I drank it gratefully. Nothing had ever tasted so good…

Amanda and I saw each other periodically since that night. She visited me during my hospital bedrest and we ran into each other in Hanover over the years. I think I thanked her for that night but probably not as much as I should have. 

This year I won’t be filling your Facebook Feeds with pleads to support our March of Dimes family team…But I will ask you to consider making a donation to Amanda’s fundraising efforts in support of BIDMC NICU or a fund set up in support of her family and 8-year-old son. I can’t thank her in the way that I should have when she was still here, this is the best way I can think of to honor her and the memory of the kindness she extended to me and my family.



I prayed.  I cried.  Then I clicked on the GoFundMe site and donated to the fund set-up to support Amanda’s family, including her 8 year-old son.

As I relayed the story to Ken and told him where the money was going, I remembered why I fundraise.

So many times when I tell people what I do for a living, they follow-up with something like, “Oh, I could never do that.  Beg people for money?  Not my idea of a good time.”

To these responses I almost always agree – that begging is painful and raising money for an important cause is often not a “good time.”

But, that’s not what I do.

Even when I haven’t felt my best, my intention has always been to approach my work with the same sincerity as Emily so lovingly displayed in her post.  Raising funds and awareness for a mission, a purpose, or a person is not an obligation, it’s a calling.

It’s a channeling of passion.

When tragedy strikes – as it has with the devastating loss of Amanda Turner Russell – the pull to do, to contribute, to help restore any sense of compassion and connection is a good thing.

A beautiful, human, loving thing.  A thing that I am honored to work toward.  A thing that you’re invited to be a part of.

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