Monday, May 20, 2013


In the spring of 2000, my father-in-law, Rud, received a delivery of hay for the miniature donkeys that he and my mother-in-law raise on their rural property in Williamston, Michigan (to each his own, right?). The conversation between Rud and the hay guy went something like this – and, yes, I’m paraphrasing:

     Rud: How’s it going?
     Hay Guy: Not so good. You?
     Rud: Not so good.
     Hay Guy: My daughter Jovonne is in the ICU.
     Rud: My daughter-in-law Lauren is in the ICU too. 

     Hay Guy: Jovonne’s getting lots of blood transfusions.   
     Rud: Lauren’s getting lots of blood transfusions too. 
     Hay Guy: Good luck.
     Rud: You too.

Fast forward four years – I was in the middle of my six-year full-time speaking tour (thank you, Johnson & Johnson) and was emceeing a donor-recipient event in Jersey City, N.J. These are emotionally charged events during which a blood center will introduce a volunteer blood or marrow donor to a patient whose life was saved by that donor's blood or marrow – sort of transfusion medicine’s version of “The Dating Game” with everyone holding their breath for the moment the two people finally meet face to face. 

No matter how many times I’ve witnessed this sort of thing, I still cry like a big ole baby when it happens. And that night in Jersey City, when a single mother – attending with her parents and five-year-old daughter – was introduced to the man from New York whose marrow saved her life during a harrowing experience with leukemia, there wasn’t a dry eye in the banquet hall.

I hadn’t had time to meet the bone marrow recipient prior to the start of the program, so I simply followed the script I’d been given by New Jersey Blood Services, which mentioned that she and her family had flown in from Detroit. After the program ended and my duties as emcee were fulfilled, I made my way to her table to chat. It went something like this – again, I’m paraphrasing:

     Me: So you’re from Detroit?
     Her: No, I actually grew up in a little town you’ve probably never heard of in central      

     Me: What town?
     Her: Williamston.
     Me: Williamston? As in: your-high-school-principal’s-name-was-Rud-Hoag      

     Her: Omigosh, yes! How’d you know that?

Jovonne and her parents and I laughed about what a small world it is, and I learned that her parents’ farm is right across the street from my in-laws’ home. Her father – aka “the hay guy” – shared with me the conversation he’d had with my father-in-law while delivering hay to their barn back when Jovonne and I were both very sick and not expected to live. “So you’re ‘that’ daughter-in-law,” he said, able to chuckle about it, now that Jovonne and I had survived our respective medical catastrophes.

During my family’s next visit to Michigan, my daughter, Clare, and Jovonne’s daughter, Kiley, hung out, played with Barbies, ate far too many cupcakes, and probably spent no time at all appreciating the “coincidence” that brought them together. But then again, the more I wander through this adventure called life, the more I believe that there are no coincidences, that the magic of synchronicity is everywhere if we only take the time to notice it. 

With Jovonne and Kiley the Night She Met Her Marrow Donor

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Download a PDF of the first 4 chapters of Lauren's memoir, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances, free.  Click here and go to the link below the "Buy the Book" button.  Zuzu's Petals is also available on Kindle and Nook.  Hardcover signed and inscribed copies are available at Happy reading!

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