Monday, December 12, 2016

A Lake for Lin: Tracing Her Ripples, Telling Their Stories

I first wrote here two weeks ago this morning about the fight my friend faces. Many of you know her better as PDNC, but a great many of you also know her, as I do, as Lin.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about her work, about the water and other aspects of our earth that she has spent a lifetime fighting to protect. I wrote about how grief may be a river in which we can be lost, joy is a lake in which we can lose ourselves willingly. I wrote about wanting to create a lake for Lin: of joy, of hope, of resources that will give her peace of mind in the battle of and for her life. Of love.

This community stepped up and created the beginnings of a miracle: more than $10,000 raised in exactly two weeks flat — and with it, an outpouring of love and support from all quarters for this woman who has been so long a force of nature, like the rapids, and yet such a gentle spirit, like the still waters of the pond that nurtures our willows.

The financial support is so important — indeed, it is crucial. With the funds already raised, her sister Laura was able to buy both the ordinary oxygen concentrator and a portable one lightweight and compact enough for her to carry on visits to doctors and the hospital. She was also able to buy the oxygen for it . . . but there's a caveat or three. Oxygen orders come in a supply of twenty-four tanks. That seems like a lot, especially when the insurance providers consider use of half a tank a day excessive. The cancer in Lin's lungs is widespread and invasive enough that instead, she requires multiple tanks a day just for basic function. Just to breathe.

And so, the fundraising component of this process becomes ever more urgent. Before I get to the heart of today's real request, I want to ask every one of you to share Lin and Laura's crowdfunding page once again. If you can afford to give, even just a few bucks, please do it. These women are our own, and they need help in what is, truly, a matter of life and death. That five dollars you were going to spend at Starbucks this afternoon? It could become part of a real holiday-season miracle:

Photo credit Lin McClure

Laura has set up a YouCaring page for Lin here. If you click on the link just below the blue Facebook widget and just above the list labeled "Supporters," the link labeled "Other Ways to Help," it takes you to a pop-up window with 1) social media widgets, and 2) widget code that can be posted to create an image with a running tally [and I need to be able to embed the widget, so whomever can make that happen, please do it]. Those widgets are by far the most effective means of sharing, much more likely to generate donations. Laura has also set up a PayPal account for Lin using this e-mail address: [It is in fact PayPal that they're using as their YouCaring payment processor, too.] Laura's doing the legwork, but Lin will have complete control over both accounts and funds. And from someone who has helped innumerable people crowdfund emergent situations, let me ask you for two favors: If you absolutely must bypass the YouCaring page to use PayPal directly, choose "donate to friends or family" so that Lin is not charged a fee. But with crowdfunding efforts, there is a huge psychological advantage to using a site like YouCaring that is simply not available via PayPal, and that is, very simply, to permit other potential donors to see progress, and to feel confident in the authenticity of a given effort. If you're able to give via the YouCaring page and can do so, please include a few extra dollars to offset the processing fee so that Lin receives the full amount you intend.
But for today's post, I also want to focus on a different form of support, the waters of a different sort of lake. Two weeks ago, I said this:
Lin has made a mark, in ways that will ripple outward for generations. People neither she nor I will ever know or see will nonetheless see the mark her life has made, and their own lives will be better for it.
That is more than enough for a legacy, more than enough for a gift, more than enough for a miracle.
But the people who create those ripples for good that are a part of the ebb and flow of our lives . . . how often do we tell them that?

Not often enough.

And so today, as we're all digging deep and finding a little more to add to the crowdfunding effort, I want us to dig deep into our memories, our souls, our spirits. I want us to tell Lin what she has done, the ripples her life has created for good in this world, the ways in which she has changed our lives for the better. Because she has devoted her life to service, to the fight for a better world, and we are indeed all better for it.

I don't want this post to be about me, but in order to explain the near-indescribable gifts this woman has given me, a little background will be necessary. But as you read, remember that the point here is Lin's own immanent genius for helping others, in ways that she probably doesn't even realize she does.

When you exist, as I do, between the spaces of the rest of the world, between the lines a dominant culture imposes and superimposes, you have no real place in that world. That has been my life from birth, and that will never really change in my lifetime; it's simply a fact. When you come from my place, you learn — and fast, if you are at all aware — the degree to which you are a commodity, a consumable, something for people to take from and try on and discard, to appropriate and then conveniently erase. And the microdynamics that underly these larger cultural dynamics involve everyone, including those we call "friends."

For those among my friends not of color, particularly the non-Native ones, the relationship is often performative. I am expected to be what they have been taught, by the dominant culture, someone like me is "supposed to be." I am expected to behave in certain ways about certain topics, to perform for them in a form of minstrelsy even as they perform something now called "allyship" for the public gaze.

Not for Lin.

Lin has always been one of the few people in this world who accepted me exactly as I am: this mixed and mixed-up soul who doesn't belong anywhere. She has never expected any faux "authenticity," because she held no preconceived notions about what or who I was supposed to be. She has always understood that there were things she would not understand, and that was okay; it has never made her uncomfortable. She takes me as I am, for who I am, flaws and all (and they are legion). That is a rare gift, especially for someone like me: to have someone who allows you, quite simply, to be

Lin did one other thing for me a few years ago that . . . well, it's not too much of a stretch to say that it saved my own life, or at least my sanity. [Well, she's done many things for me, too many to count, many just by being her, but this falls into a different category.]

To me, writing is breathing, and words are life itself. Lin understood this about me, perhaps even when I didn't. And years ago, when I had been through some things and was in danger of losing my voice, of losing myself, she pulled me back. She told me that I was the one who told the stories that needed telling. She believed in my voice, in my words, when I not only didn't believe in them myself, I couldn't even hear myself. 

The only other person in this world who does that for me is Wings.

I very nearly stopped. No words, no writing, no ebb and flow, no breath of life. And for years, when I felt that gray miasma of doubt working its way in again, the voice I heard in my head was hers, telling me that I had the stories, I had the words.

That, to me, is an indescribable gift.

I have not stopped writing since. Not even a day. 

None of this is about me. It's about a powerful woman who refused to give up on a friend, who looked at her and saw who she really was and grabbed her by the hand and whispered in her ear that she was not invisible, that she mattered, that her voice mattered.

And I know, as surely as I am sitting her typing these words at this moment, that there are dozens, scores, hundreds, even thousands of people who can tell similar stories about what Lin has done for them, about how the force of her generous heart and beautiful spirit has created ripples that continue to flow outward to this day, filling the world with words and stories and hope and love that otherwise would not have been there.

Photo copyright Aji, 2016; all rights reserved.

I do not want this to be a place where sadness congregates, where we get caught up, like to willows, weeping into pooled tears. Lin needs our help, and our hope, and our joy to help her fight this battle. So please join me, because I know you have a story, too: In the comments, please tell us about how Lin, about how her love and joy and support and hope for life and the world itself has sent ripples through your own life for the better.

And don't forget to put a few pennies in the pot.

Cross-posted here.

Except as otherwise indicated, all content, including photos and text, are copyright Aji, 2016; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.

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