We give money to strangers throughout our lives. You may have just sent money to the Philipines via the Red Cross. We gave money after Katrina, after Sandy, after Haiti…it’s a noble thing to send a donation to people you don’t even know.

Today I’d like to persuade you to take a stranger to lunch.


JLK is Jennifer, a six year old girl in Gilroy, California. She had her sixth birthday very recently. On her birthday, she was given a diagnosis that may not permit her to be a seven year old. She has DIPG, a particular kind of tumor that attaches to her brain stem. Because many important functions–like breathing–are controlled in that area, doctors can’t just go in and excise the tumor. There’s no surgery for this tumor. There’s no cure for this tumor. The symptoms that brought her to be examined were simply vision problems and headaches. Very minor symptoms that led to a devastating diagnosis.

What will happen, and is currently happening now, is that Jennifer gets radiation therapy for six weeks to shrink the tumor and buy her some time. After she recovers from the therapy, she will have a period of feeling good and being back to “normal.” But statistically, after six to nine months, she will start to feel bad again…and that’s supposed to be it. As in, that’s all there is.

Her family has been connected to the Make A Wish foundation, and Jennifer’s wish will be expedited.

Her family has to process all this, and quickly, and figure out how to make the most of what time they have. Jennifer has a mom and dad, Libby and Tony, and three younger siblings.She is cute as a button, and although we moved from Gilroy several years ago, I remember her vividly.

Libby has been journaling about Jennifer at www.love4jlk.org, and reading through her posts is like reading a holy tome. There is a stark elegance and chaos to these bewildered words. Throughout history, women have agonized at the circumstances that rob them of their children. I feel like I am turning pages of heavy parchment, as I enter Libby’s world and read about her attempts to face the worst thing that can happen to a mother. She is a beautiful and talented writer, and although I know she couldn’t care less at this point, she probably has a book in her.

As I read through her posts with sobs wracking my body, I wonder, does my grief help at all? In those remote and cold heavens, does anyone pause to listen, scraping back their chair to listen to the lamentations below? I know many people believe fervently in prayer, and I will pray too. I have. I have tried to make strange bargains with God for Jennifer. I hope that my small scratchings, like a mouse behind the wall, have helped in some way. Because otherwise I feel helpless.

But actually there is one thing I can do. I can use this blog to get the word out, and to hopefully encourage people to help this family financially. What can money do? It can let Tony take time off from work to enjoy his daughter…it can pay for the expensive radiation…it can send them to Disneyland. If Jennifer gets into an experimental trial it can pay for that.

Here’s my request. That you, reading this, send $15 to the family. You will buy them lunch. After each treatment, I learned from Libby’s journal, Jennifer, she and the family member or friend who held newborn Charlotte (can you imagine this? Libby is going through all this with a babe-in-arms) go to the hospital cafeteria and have lunch.

Let’s picture the lunch you will treat them to. Jennifer has a gluten-free selection, because on top of everything else, she has Celiac disease. Let’s give Libby a roast beef sandwich so she can dig her teeth into this meat and borrow some savage animal spirit to fight this fight. The friend who held Charlotte can have a crisp, cold, chef’s salad. Eating lunch out everyday adds up; it’s expensive. Although you won’t be there in the cafeteria at the cash register, opening up your wallet, you can still take these sweet people to lunch.

How do you do it? Visit www.love4jlk.org and click on “Help our Family.” You can Paypal money or use the gofundme link. And then….go fiercely hug the ones you love.

Originally posted on World Of Mailman.

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