By: Michael J. Jackson

Karen loved to read.

I wrote this story after reading so many "I HATE Holland" postings to one of the group lists that I subscribe to.
{With my heartfelt apology to the wonderful Hollanders of the Netherlands.}

Karen loved to read.

When our flight landed in Holland, I was in shock.  It wasn't my son who was "Dutch"... it was my wife.  It took six years for the doctors to finally diagnose Karen as having a mitochondrial disorder called MELAS.  I was too busy surviving to even notice the windmills.

Lost the finances, the business, and watched as my wife lost her mind and health.  Went through the unstoppable grand mal seizures that put Karen into many comas, the useless medications, the violent behavior that resulted in more embarrassment than I thought that I could bear and finally the nursing home for those last three years.

I didn't hate Holland, there wasn't the time to spare for that.  But oh, did I ever let the Travel Agent know that He'd really messed up my life!  I went from pleading for a refund and new tickets, to telling Him what He could do with the old ones, to trying to figure out why He'd given us the tickets in the first place.

I finally looked around.  Holland was full of people just like us.  Oh, they had different accommodations, but all were wandering around in pain and most of them without much hope.  I looked at our tickets for the first time since we'd arrived.  I saw the cross, the blood, and the agony of a Father and Son separated for the first time in all eternity.  I began to ponder.

Then, late one night, the Travel Agent sent us new tickets.  Two of the tickets were for Italy, and one was for Home.  Karen left on her Flight, and I stood there with my six-year-old son, on the tarmac, looking at our plane to Italy.  I glanced down at the tickets in my hand, and then at all of the people around us in Holland.  I turned to the Travel Agent, and handed Him the tickets.  "What are these worth?" I asked Him.  With tears of joy in His eyes, He said, "More than your original tickets, without price, as much as the tickets that I carried when I traveled here with my Son."  I looked down at the tickets to Italy in His hand, and saw the lovely face of my precious Karen looking back at me.

It took a few more years, tears and hard work; but there now stands at the edge of the tarmac of that dreary airport in Holland, a little hotel.  It's covered with a zillion bright lights, but even so, it's hard to see it from the rain-streaked windows of the planes that land on the tarmac nearby.  It has a sign, over the front door that stands open nearly all hours of the day and night, and under that sign I stand with my now-ten-year-old son.  When we see a family get off of a plane from MitoAirlines, we hope that they can see our sign "MELAS Online Network - Our Little Light Shines" glowing brightly in the storm-darkened and rain-swept sky of their new home, our home, Holland.

I know, it hurts so much 'til you think that you're going to lose your mind.  Every time that you think that something better will happen, it only gets worse; until you only expect the worse because that's the only thing that does happen.  It tears at your mind that the Travel Agent stuck you with tickets to Holland, and you're so busy trying to survive that you don't notice the windmills.

When they find themselves in "Holland" some folks choose to drown in their sorrow and pain, as I almost did many times during the ten years of Karen's illness and in the four years since she went Home.  But some folks survive by God's grace and mercy and by learning to put their trust in the Travel Agent.  They remember all of the hardship, pain, and tears, and how they learned to handle them with His help, and they find that there's plenty of room left for putting up another sign and meeting the planes as they land on that rainy tarmac in Holland.  He doesn't mind when we vent to Him about the tickets, or Holland, or how much it hurts, because He remembers the cross and the tomb, and He shudders.  He cares because He's been there before us.  Because of His own pain and sorrow and His great love for us, He promises never to leave His children alone, even in the darkest of nights.

If you've reached the point where you just can't pray, there's someone in Georgia, USA that's praying for you every week, and a lovely young lady in Heaven named Karen who takes it to Him in person.

Trust Him, He really does care for you.

I tried to keep the MON alive as long as I could.  However, I am very sorry that the MON is no longer available for your mitochondrial disorder-related needs.  I simply could not continue to operate it with the opposition that I was receiving from a few folk in the mitochondrial community who actively and viciously attacked the MON, my friends, myself, and even my son.  When the stress from this began to affect my personal health, and my son was hurt by the thoughtless actions of these few discontents, I was forced to bring things to a close.  I am truly sorry.

God grant us all peace from those who would hurt the innocent rather than help them.
- Mike Jackson

Karen wanted to help other folks with MELAS.

- Mike - http://www.melas.org
Augusta, GA; USA
Copyright © 1999 2000 Michael Jackson
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Karen had the greatest smile.

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