Today’s post is dedicated to Angie Reyer Kotarski, a mom worthy of every collective Mother’s Day wish in the world.
Our family met Angie ten years ago when we lived in Durham, North Carolina. We moved into the same apartment complex -right next door to each other- for a one year stint. I knew nobody and had a six-month-old baby so I was thrilled to learn that Angie also had a six-month-old. I was more than thrilled; I was elated! A neighbor with the same age baby! What could be better? Not only would we become friends and hang out and gossip and drink wine, but our kids would become friends and life would be grand.
Except that Angie had bigger issues to deal with other than drinking wine and gossiping and making playdates. Her son Myles had just been diagnosed with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency), a genetic disease which knocks out your immune system to the point where it basically doesn’t exist. Myles and Angie had moved to North Carolina to be under the care of a doctor at Duke University. The day we moved in and I was stressing about where to place my couch, Myles was getting a bone marrow transplant and would have to recover in complete isolation for the next year. This meant no playground. No trips to the grocery store. No daycare. No Gymboree. No library. No nothing. No social outlets for him and no social outlets for his mom. Myles would never get to meet my daughter in person. He was the boy in the bubble.
During my year in North Carolina, I learned a lot about being a mother from Angie. I learned the true definition of unconditional love. Angie quit her job and left her family in Cincinnati to completely immerse herself in the care of her child. She spent her days finding ways to keep Myles occupied and happy, play games, and create a sense of normalcy for her son, despite the constant back and forth to the hospital, unexpected medical emergencies and operations her son had to endure. Myles was a fighter. And Angie was his Chief of Staff. But despite these restrictions, Angie always had a smile on her face. And Myles and Talia became friends anyway, they just did so with a window separating them. Some of my favorite memories of living in North Carolina are of Talia and Myles dancing and making funny faces to each other between the window. There’s nothing fun about cancer. But if Angie Reyher Kotarski was your mom and you had cancer, you can bet she’d make it fun.
Cut to nine years later and Myles is still a fighter. He has already undergone two painful bone marrow transplants and hundreds of medical procedures. Angie and her family have moved several times since our year together. Angie got married to a wonderful man and has since given birth to two more (healthy) children. She has created an amazing life for all of them, despite all she continues to endure.
But when you have a mom like Angie, somehow having cancer turns into an adventure. Not only did she create a crazy “shave your head” party for Myles in her backyard last weekend, but she herself shaved her own head in support. And so have dozens of Myles’ friends and family, all tweeting their pictures in support to show him that he’s not alone.
Here is a picture of Angie and her family:
How cool is this family?
I have no words for the strength this woman has shown throughout so much adversity. This post is not to remind us that we should be thankful for all that we have (that would be stating the obvious), but it is a request to help Angie and her family by donating to Myles’ medical expenses. Even if it’s small, consider making a donation. It will help more than you know. You can read more about Myles here:
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful moms out there who work harder than you get credit for every day. Every mom deserves something special today. But Angie Reyer Kotarski, a mom who never asks for anything in return for all she gives to her family, and especially to her phenomenal son Myles whom we hope gets better very, very soon, deserves the most of all.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, Angie. Here’s to Myles’ good health. This toast is for you!