This past Saturday night, some of Mike's friends from High School and Grade School arranged for a fundraiser for us to help with our overdue medical bills and health insurance. Unbeknownst to me, our dear friend - our angel Tom - had been in touch with Courtney and Brandon to arrange the date and get people's names to invite. I was only told about it last month and I was extremely shocked. Of course I was emotional and quite humbled. The fact that these men, with jobs, houses, children and commitments, took the time and effort to make this happen was almost unbelieveable to me. I also didn't find out until that night that there was a "silent" partner in this who paid for all the supplies, food and beverages so that our family would get 100% of the proceeds. To me, this is the ultimate gift. The entire time he did not want to be known, he donated so much without the desire to be in the spotlight. It was only AFTER I took to the microphone and thanked all our friends that I was introduced to this kind, kind man.
The fundraiser came at a perfect time. Tom's original goal was to raise enough money for Courtney and I to have health insurance for a year. Then the week before the fundraiser, I got notification from the home health agency that if I didn't pay all or a portion of the $15,000.00 I owed them, they would have to stop sending Mike's aide. While I completely understood their point of view, I found myself unable to pay the $1,200/month Medicaid felt I could afford (when calculating our "overage", they take net salary, not gross and they do not take other expenses into account).
The best part of the night was seeing friends I haven't seen in years. My best friend from High School, our Best Man, Brandon's Godfather, a girl I used to work with at Friendly's while I was in high school and Mike's friends from GRADE SCHOOL. It also amazed me that people we never even met met were coming together to help us.
Mike's friend Steve, one of the men who arranged this night, told me a story that made me understand Mike just a little bit more. Steve and Mike were friends in grade school. Steve's mom was blind and he told me that Mike's mom would come over frequently to visit with her. Mostly, to just sit and talk, keep her company or help her in any way she could. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. This is exactly what Mike was like when he was well. How sad that two people who gave so much of themselves developed such a hideous disease that made them both alienated by their own friends "who just couldn't handle seeing them this way".
The evening was an amazing, emotional and fun time for everyone. I was touched by all that was done for us, and everyone else felt good for being able to DO for us.
I will never be able to properly thank Tom, Steve, Ed and Rob for all their months of work. I pray one day I will be given the opportunity and means to help someone else.