April 10 , 2011

For Jessica


When I first wrote “For Jessica” in the summer of 2010, I posted it to my blog as a way to express to my friends what was happening in my life, to my daughter, who suffers from a terrible neurological disease called tuberous sclerosis. At the time I wrote the essay, I had just learned that she had been diagnosed with a degenerative spinal cord disorder.

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Travels with Jessica

Of all the things I thought I might find myself asking someday, the question “Do you know anyone who can translate the phrase ‘ventriculoperitoneal shunt’ into Italian?” is not one of them.I have always wanted to travel the world, but when my daughter Jessica was born with a debilitating medical condition that left her physically and mentally…

When things are this overwhelming, I find it hard to talk to people on the phone or in person. I just want to be alone.

But my friends needed to know what was happening and why I wasn’t answering phone calls. I wanted to tell them but I didn’t want to keep bursting into tears.

So I wrote “For Jessica,” and clicked “post.”

And then something unexpected happened. A friend linked to it on Facebook, and another friend linked to it on Twitter, and pretty soon people who weren’t my friends were reading it. Hundreds of people, then thousands of people, then tens of thousands of people. They left hundreds of comments.

They said they understood. Or if they didn’t understand, they wanted to hold my hand anyway. Or say a prayer for us or send flowers to Jessica.

I’m still astonished that so many people cared so much for one little girl and her mother.

I’ve been asked repeatedly to make “For Jessica” available in book form, and have finally done so. All proceeds from the sale of this book go to support Jessica.

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