university of michigan, icu, tim boursaw, jane boursaw
Tim and Jane Boursaw at University of Michigan's Surgical ICU | Credit: Colin the Awesome ICU Nurse
yoga, neahtawanta inn, sally van vleck, old mission peninsula

(Editor’s Note: Jane’s best friend, Kris Hains, fills in at “Jane’s World” while Jane and her husband, Tim, get through yet another medical crisis at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.)

I remember the first time I met Jane Boursaw. It was 2005 and our mutual friend and fellow freelance writer, Lori Hall Steele, introduced me over email to Jane, as well as to Traverse City freelancer Heather Johnson Durocher. Lori thought it would be good to “combine forces” and have an accountability group where we all had somewhere to check in, to bounce ideas, to vent about frustrations, and to relish the joys of life as freelancers.

friendship, fundraising
The Goddesses, from left: Lori Hall Steele, Heather Johnson Durocher (front), Kris Hains and Jane Boursaw (back)

We created an email group called [TCWriters] but within the group, we simply referred to ourselves as “goddesses,” because sometimes when you’re starting out, it’s all about “fake it till you make it.” So we believed we were, and we embraced the uncertainty of lives as freelancers, but did it with the support and gusto of this team of four. Each day we exchanged emails back and forth. “Can you read this query for me?” “Anybody got time to proof an article before I send it off?” or “Whoo hoo I just landed a $1/word assignment” were part of our daily chatter.

While our main focus was our writing, we often also checked in on family matters, what was going on around us, and just life in general. It was an accountability group, but it was also this safe place to be real and get some awesome girl-power support.

Things took a turn in July 2007 when Lori fell ill. After months of failing health and a long list of medical tests and procedures, she was diagnosed with ALS. In November 2008, we lost Lori to that horrible disease. It was an emotional blow to all of us, and our little group started to diminish. The group emails became less frequent; partially because two of us had taken jobs and were no longer freelancing full-time, but also, I think, because some of the magic died when we lost Lori.

Nevertheless, Jane and I continued to be in touch daily, either via email or instant message or occasionally texts. Though we started out as professional acquaintances, soon she was my confidante, cheerleader, online therapist, and all-around best friend. When my sister passed suddenly in August 2010, it was Jane who I remember at the funeral basically keeping me grounded and in some ways literally and figuratively holding me up.

In this life, those friendships are rare and hard to come by, and so it’s something I have never taken for granted. When we first met in 2005, Jane had already been through the life-changing experience of her husband Tim’s liver transplant. I often think to myself, “I wish I had known her then, so I could have been there for her the way she has been there for me so many times.”

I guess sometimes life gives us a second chance to respond in present day the way we wished we could have in the past. As most Gazette readers know, Jane’s husband, Tim, has once again been thrust into a medical crisis. At this point, it’s involved three very serious and if we’re being honest, life-threatening surgeries. You can read about Jane’s recaps of the first two surgeries here and here.

I know when things turn a corner, Jane will write an update to bring you all current on his most recent medical scare, but for now, just know that over the last few days, Tim has defied medical odds and by all indications appears to be starting the long road to healing.

In the meantime, the enormity of this health challenge means Jane’s focus has had to turn from her work (here at the Gazette, as well as with her syndicated responsibilities) while she stays at Tim’s bedside at University of Michigan Hospital to support him, cheer him on, and in some moments, will him to keep on fighting. It’s exhausting and obviously doesn’t leave much in the tank for focusing on the other of life’s many responsibilities.

And that’s why I’m filling in at “Jane’s World” today. I know that the Old Mission Peninsula is a community in and of itself. I learned this first hand when my own son was in elementary school; I opted to open-enroll him at OMPS because I was so taken by the sense of community that exists on the Peninsula. Even though it meant a long (albeit beautiful) drive to and from school every day, it was worth it to have my son grow up within the community of Old Mission Peninsula.

Communities are families, and when one person is struggling, the others pitch in and help carry the load. I know that if someone else were in the same position, Jane would be the first person in the trenches helping out. So I wanted to let Jane’s Old Mission Gazette readers know about a couple of opportunities that exist to help Jane and Tim (and their family) through this trying time.

First, I have created a youcaring account for anyone who feels compelled to help. You can click through the link here: https://www.youcaring.com/janetimboursaw-795035

Second, as publisher of five (soon-to-be six) coloring books, I am currently doing a second fundraiser. For $12 shipped, you can purchase one of my coloring books and ALL of the proceeds will go to Jane and Tim. Click through this link to see my books.

If you’re interested in purchasing a book to help Tim and Jane, just paypal the money to [email protected] and put “Tim and Jane” in the comments, and also let me know which book you’d like to purchase. I have committed 100 books to the cause.

Third, you can also mail notes, cards, words of encouragement etc. to Jane and Tim in c/o Denali & Co, PO Box 1015, Traverse City, MI 49685. I will make sure anything received by mail is passed along to them.

Finally, please feel free to share this post with your own friends. My grandma always told me “many hands make light work.” The power of many, each giving a little, can go a long way to help this family weather this latest medical crisis and stay on their feet.

Back in the early days of our [TCWriters] group, I think we zeroed in on the word “goddess” because of the sense of power it implied (which was something we all needed as we were forging these freelance writing careers). But taking a closer look, Webster also defines a goddess as “a woman who is greatly loved or admired.”

I can’t think of a better way to describe my friend, Jane.

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