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Commentary: One minute in time can be a life changer

I was bouncing back and forth between worrying about my daughter flying to Ukraine (very far away, 4 connections, 1 airline I'd never heard of, very far away) and worrying about what I was going to say to a very smart, tough federal judge who was about to keep me on my feet for hours arguing on behalf of my client.

And somewhere in the middle of the morning, when we took our break, I checked my e-mail and found a link to is an amazing idea, brilliantly executed, by people doing the Lord's work. It allows individuals who are seriously ill, or their families, to set up a personal site hosted by CaringBridge, where they can post updates and pictures. Friends near and far can sign up to be updated when there are new entries, and the family is relieved of the task of trying to remember and contact and update people they may not even know.

CaringBridge is a gift for those who most need it and for those who love them. We should all support it. But getting a link in an e-mail is never good news.

My friend Baby (yes, some names stick), one of the most exuberant, alive, active women I know, a lifelong lover of dogs and horses, an exceptional rider, teacher and trainer, fell while jumping a fence on horseback and suffered a traumatic brain injury. There was some evidence of shearing, and there were signs of a stroke. That was the first entry.

There were also amazing pictures of Baby -- smiling in every one, full of life and energy and positive joy. Crazy and wonderful, people call her; our "nutty mommy," her children call her in the latest post.

Now that I get an e-mail alerting me to each new post, I'm on top of the news that she's responding to commands by raising two fingers and wiggling a foot. This afternoon, she opened her eyes a tiny bit in response to a command. Steps. She is not out of the woods yet. She is not galloping. Her three children are dividing the blogging and reading her the messages people post on the site. They swear she can feel the outpouring of love and prayer and support, and whether or not she really can, they certainly do. So the expert rider falls off the horse. If Baby had told me she was going for a ride, I would have said have fun. (The horse, her children told us, was stiff but OK, and had done everything he could not to fall on her.)

Joplin, Mo., turns out to be the most dangerous place on earth, at least for one day. If my daughter had said she wanted to go to Joplin instead of Ukraine, I would have been relieved. And wrong.

The hardest challenges to deal with are the ones that make no sense, when cause and effect don't hook up, not easily anyway, when what you aren't worried about happening and what should not have happened does. Optimists will tell you that proves the futility of worry. Pessimists will point out that it proves how much more there really is to worry about. The bottom line is the same. You can stay inside your house in Joplin, and a tornado shows up. You can go for the millionth ride of your life, and some tiny thing happens that makes that ride different from all the others, and your friends are at their computers sending messages of hope and prayer, and your kids are at your bedside rejoicing at two fingers moving. And you can't know until it happens because who would really think it was going to happen?

At one point in the hearing, the judge commented that hindsight is always 20-20. I stopped and thought about Baby. If she could wish right now, would she wish she had never fallen in love with dogs and horses, never learned to ride, never owned a horse? Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Is that really a question for a joyful person? Godspeed, my friend. May there be many wonderful rides in the future.