When people picture their ideal au pair, Mary Poppins always comes to mind. But there is another role model - a responsible caregiver who is creative and captures the hearts of all around her. I argue she outshines the English nanny known for popping in and out of people's lives. This other au pair archetype is Wendy's namesake: Wendy Moira Angela Darling, from Peter Pan. Our Wendy lives up to her name, but rather than battling pirates, she has been fiercely fighting cancer.
There are days that define us. July 24, 2016 was one of those days; that was the day our youngest child, Ewan, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was not the sudden and out-of-control overtake of our lives by cancer that defined us, but rather the sudden realization that our family was bigger and stronger than we knew. That was the day we learned Wendy was not just an au pair on an adventure far from home; Wendy is a part of our family - she is one of us and this is her home.
Contrary to her name, our Wendy is defined by her calm and peace in a storm. She is a rock that the waves roll over. Wendy was only one month into her 2nd-year extension with us when our lives turned upside down. 54 days in the hospital followed, along with countless chemo treatments, hair loss, weight loss and nausea, to name a few. Wendy was the one that made sure our other 3 children has what they needed to carry on. Snacks and lunches were packed. Kids were off to school and arrived at activities on time.
When she wasn't tending to the other kids, Wendy was by Ewan's side, soothing his soul. Whether it was reading Harry Potter, playing Uno or Clue, making sure there were clean clothes in his drawers and that his bathtub was disinfected before the water was drawn, no detail was taxing for Wendy. She grabbed grey throw up buckets with a serene smile. She sat through trips to the ER, countless clinic visits, built Lego sets in hospital rooms and crawled in bed with Ewan and quietly watched movies with him when the mood called for it. Wendy gently did it all with a heart full of love and kindness.
This past February, a snowstorm caused a tree to crash through our roof. It coincided with the toughest phase of Ewan's treatment. Wendy was rock solid while we lived out of hotel rooms. It took 2 months for our house to be restored. Thanks to her we could trust our kids were completely and compassionately cared for. We were able to restore our lives. I can't picture Mary Poppins cleaning throw up off of Michael Bank's knickers, but just as Wendy Darling was not faint of heart and had the ability to think of lovely things, our Wendy did. She has helped our hearts mend and fly on wings.
The Lili Family
Mercer Island, WA