The news these days is often depressing at worst and frustrating at best. It’s easy to get caught up in the spin cycle and let it get us down. Never fear… The News Blender has you covered. Once a week we feature Something Good and, in return, all you have to do is tell us something good that has happened to you this week, something you are thankful for, a joke, a cute animal story, an inspiring tale of heroics, a Random Act of Kindness… SOMETHING good.
Today’s something good is all about loving your neighbor, or your new husband’s ex-wife in this case, as yourself.
Debby Neal-Strickland finally walked down the aisle to marry her beau, Jim Merthe, of 10 years on November 22, 2020. They’d put off their wedding twice, not wanting to steal the spotlight from their kids who got engaged.
Debby and Jim are already pretty extraordinary because they are raising six children. Five teenagers and an autistic 6 year-old. The kids are a combination of foster children and Debby’s biological grandchildren.
But their story gets even more amazing. Jim is divorced. He and his ex-wife Mylaen have been amicably divorced for almost 20 years and raised their two kids. When Jim fell in love with Debby, Debby and Mylaen got along well but were not particularly close.
Mylaen was admitted to the hospital last November struggling with kidney disease – her kidneys were functioning at 8%, she was pale and had no energy to continue working. She was about to become a grandmother for the first time but needed a transplant if she was to see her grandchild born.
Debby volunteered. She’d volunteered to give one of her lungs to her brother years before when he was dying of cystic fibrosis but she wasn’t a match. Mylaen’s brother offered her a kidney but he wasn’t a match.
Debby told AP that she thought about Mylaen’s daughter not having her mom there when she was giving birth. “I just couldn’t not try to change that. God told me, ‘You’re a match and you need to do this.'”
There were months of testing and delays because of Covid and Mylaen tried not to get her hopes up. She said, “Debby knew that’s all I ever wanted. She did it from her heart.”
The transplant was finally set for two days after Debby and Jim’s wedding was scheduled. She was tempted to delay the wedding, again, but was talked out of it. Debby said, “It was the most amazing day of my life, until two days later. That was also the most amazing day of my life.”
When she regained consciousness, the first thing she did was ask about Mylaen. Mylaen was a couple floors down begging to see Debby. They eventually worked around Covid protocols and Jim wheeled his new bride into his ex-wife’s room. Debby immediately saw a difference in Mylaen. “The dark circles were gone and she looked so alive and revitalized,” Debby said.
They both cried and laughed as they met after surgery and now call themselves kidney sisters.
Mylaen not only got to see baby Jackson born but she had a second grandson born in March. “I got to hold him and feed him. I was like, ‘I’m actually here to to see this and I’m holding this little baby.”
The whole family is planning a trip to Georgia this summer where the two women will be particularly close and make over all the grandchildren.
“This is what the world is about. Family,” Mylaen said. “We need to stick together. She saved my life.”
Now it’s your turn… Tell me something good!