Life threatening situations don’t have to be all bad. It sure can be a quick way to find out who your friends are. In 1997, a very ambitious, creative woman from here in the Twin Cities named Sona Mehring created a website called CaringBridge. It is essentially a website that allows your friends to keep updated on your current health situation while in the hospital. The monumental task of calling hundreds of people to let them know you survived surgery, etc. can now be accessed by a simple online post that goes out to all your friends and family with access to a computer. There is no charge for this service which is completely supported by donations.
CaringBridge turned out to be the most unexpected uplifting experience for my wife and me. I received more than 3,000 responses on my website during my nine-day stay at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
I got posts from two young women I mentored during the annual trip I make to Mt. Lincoln in Vermont — one from Mumbai, India, and the other who is spending two years in South Sudan in an effort to eradicate the Guinea Worm from a small village.
I received messages from England and Ireland, from Vermont to Vancouver, Canada, and from almost every state in the union. Let me show you how well my friends had me covered.
A friend working in the movie industry brought together his drum circle in Los Angeles to offer prayers. Two men I met last summer at a Veterans Healing Group held a Tobacco Ceremony for me at their Montana Reservation. I even had a Twin Cities Sufi Singers group offer their prayers to Allah. A lady I know from out east made me a personal CD of healing songs she wrote.
I would also like to share a representative example of a few of the many messages I received.
From a California friend in response to the good news from my doctor that I was healing quite rapidly: “Would you have expected anything less from the doc but surprise and amazement at your super healing powers? Remember, you’re the guy who went on Christmas vacation with a broken back and then had a heart attack sitting on the bluffs of the beach! Rest up! There’s no extra credit for killing yourself while you’re supposed to be on the mend!”
This next post represents how CaringBridge can help you feel in touch with someone thousands of miles away.
“Hello dearest Papa Wick — to ‘hear your voice’ up close and in person on this latest post has sent this heart soaring ... along with many others around the world!”
Here is a post from an old friend who needed double hip surgery way back in the 70s when she was barely 20 years old. She reflected on how hard this was for her and the pain she endured until this incident happened.
“I met some very cool senior citizens that were putting up with pain in a brave and gentle way. One little old lady had on a baseball cap and when the pain really rocked her, all she could say was 'Oh Mercy' in a quiet voice. She was my role model.”
That post brought out quite a few feelings; first, for the poor little old lady who I never even knew. I also took a punch in the gut for all my complaints about getting inadequate pain relief from the medical staff. I owe a big thank you for that post from RoAnn in Mississippi. The little old lady I never knew also became my role model.
The biggest debt of gratitude belongs to CaringBridge creator Sona Mehring. In her words, “In 1997 good friends of mine had a pre-mature baby. They asked me to let everyone know what was happening. Instead of making emotional and time draining phone calls, I created a website. In fact, the same night Brighid was born the first CaringBridge site was started.”
The website says it best; “CaringBridge eases communication and encourages love and support when it matters most.”
It certainly worked for me.