I was wrong in 2002

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When clients asked me in 2002 about communities online I was bold enough to say “communities are crap.”  I was very, very, very wrong. 

In February of 2006, I found out I was pregnant with twins.  I found myself at www.babycenter.com  looking for other women in my boat.  I found a message board for women expecting multiples in October and started to post about my morning sickness, potential names, cravings … These women (roughly 75 at one point) became my resources for everything. Along the way, one woman caught my attention with her candidness, wisdom and humor.  Her name is Jessica Kate (JK) and her twins were born on October 11 just three weeks after mine.  They were welcomed by their two older brothers and their great father Charley. 

Since 2006 the message board (now a private Yahoo group) has remained an everyday part of my life.  When I travel for work, I try to meet up with some of the women on it and I feel so lucky to call this motley crew my friends.  When I was in Denver this summer I got to meet JK and we had a fantastic girl’s night out including margaritas and lots of laughing. Even though we had met online she was someone that I would have picked out of a crowd to be my friend.

Just a few weeks after I visited, one of her twins, Tuesday, became ill and went to the hospital.  She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma and she went through more than 30 procedures (surgeries, chemo …).  It looked like she had kicked the cancer until suddenly a new and agressive tumor appeared.  This tumor took her life last night while she was at home with her loving family.  My heart is broken that she lost this battle against cancer.  It isn’t fair.  It isn’t fair that a family should have to bury their 2 year old.  She didn’t get enough time on this earth and she will be missed by so many people.

The one shining star of this experience has been how online communities, blogs and generous hearts have shown their strength.  Within minutes of the diagnosis, the women on my board mobilized to raise money and awareness.  T-shirts were made and sold, auctions for bracelets and artwork were held, artists from etsy.com made custom jewelry as a fundraiser.  We each volunteered to send a package to the family on a different Tuesday.  Her friends in Denver used an amazing site called www.lotsofhelpinghands.com  to organize meals and visitors.  My friend JK kept us all posted with her poignant blog http://half12.blogspot.com/ and wrote beautiful stories about her family and about what this experience was teaching them.  Strangers started to follow their journey and in less than 24 hours after Tuesday died there were more than 500 comments posted to the family’s blog.  Many of the posters strangers who found their way to her blog through other people’s blogs or Facebook status. 

So for anyone who sat in a meeting with me in the early 2000s and I said community is crap. I was wrong. Very wrong.

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