I want to tell you a short story. I went to Lubbock High School back in the 80’s. Diversity was the norm. The school was full of character and spirit. I loved it there. I had many friends and felt like I could mingle with just about any social group there. Back then, as a teenager, I had a couple of very close friends and a lot of acquaintences. This story is about one of those acquaintances whom I have grown to love as a sister these 20 years later. I miss her, admire her, cry with her, and thrive on the ‘boosts’ she gives me. I feel important in the small things that I have to offer. So let me tell you about this amazing woman.
This is Michelle. I knew her as Michelle Burns in high school. A quiet girl that I didn’t take the chance to get to know very well. We hung out with the same people, but it was a large group of people. We talked and giggled, but we didn’t get to be heart to heart. Isn’t her family gorgeous? Isn’t *she* gorgeous? Michelle, and her husband Joel, have three children. This picture has only two of them in it. Yes, the Duyck (pronounced Duck) family is beautiful. And their hearts are as bright as their countenances. (picture has Presley, Michelle, Joel, and little Camden)
This is Joel and Michelle’s third child. Chloe. This picture is of Presley kissing her baby sister in the hospital. This was the only time Presley got to touch, or see, her sister.
This is where Chloe lived. She had a short life – just 4 days, but because of her parents, her memory and her purpose for coming to this earth remain in many people’s hearts. Chloe was born with a serious congenital heart defect (CHD). Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I’m not going to pretend I know what this is, but when Michelle and Joel found out about Chloe’s condition before she was born, they became experts on it. I’m also not going to pretend to understand the grief this family felt when their daughter passed away without truly being able to hold or cuddle her. I can’t imagine. If I were Michelle I would have sat down in a dark room in a fetal position and cried. I would have blamed others for not doing enough. I would be hurt and angry. Ultimately I would just fall apart and give up on having anymore kids for fear the nightmare would happen again. Thank goodness, for so many strangers out there, that Michelle didn’t act the way I would have. Or so many other mothers out there. Nope. Michelle grieved, went through the motions and then dusted off her boots and started *acting* on what she knew and her experience. She started the Chloe Duyck Memorial Fund. Michelle started spreading information but that wasn’t enough. Somehow she got the strength to start having events to raise awareness, and money, for research. Big events. Like at South Fork Ranch where the TV show “Dallas” was filmed. And with big names. Bands in TX that supported her. Recently Michelle has gone bigger. She has sealed a car in NASCAR. Yep, now that my friends, is big time from where I stand.
Here is the Chloe car. Hope4TinyHearts raced by Ken Wallace. It has pink and red butterflies and pink and red hearts all over it. It is girlie, and it is gorgeous as it races around the track at 100mph! Wallace has helped Michelle get the word out about CHD. I couldn’t be prouder of my friend. Oh, did I mention that through this process I have had the honor of getting very close to Michelle? I love her. I love who she is and what she represents. I love how she sees herself as a person who is doing what she can to help others deal with or prepare for what she went through with Chloe. She is a rock to me, through all of what she is doing she takes time to make me feel good about what I am struggling with in my own little world. Which is *nothing* compared to her experiences! We are going to live by each other someday and create a party planning business called “M&M Parites” or something cute like that. Anyway, I digress. As if this NASCAR having Chloe’s name on it and the fund and everything that it has on it isn’t enough. NO! Michelle has gone a step further. The car has been updated to this:
Here is #28 all gussied up in her finest. All those words on there? You may not be able to read it, but they are the names of other CHD kids. Chloe and all her CHD buddies will be flying around the race track in Bristol proud that there is someone who has not let their stories die. Proud that their parents, with the help of Michelle, didn’t crumple in a corner and fall apart, but are informing and trying to nudge science along so that other babies don’t have to go through what they went through.