Saturday, December 8, 2012

Are You Regular?

This is a bonus blog.  Today is a special day, it has already been a day of hard work and progress, and when I have concluded this note and uploaded it, Lizy and I will journey down a road of memories.  Do you remember a certain road?  Perhaps the road Evan wrote about? It goes like this:

Life is like a Road

Life is like a road,
The road is often not straight,

or clear,
and sometimes the road splits,
and we must choose what direction to go.

Sometimes we can walk this road with friends,
other times we must walk alone.

But when you get to the end of the road,
and all is said and done,
nothing really matters anymore,
except for the journey,
and the love you've shared and received during it,
and the fact that this love will stand the test of time,
and go on forever.

-Evan Coleman  July 30, 2012

19 days later, Evan’s road came to an end for this world.  54 days later his life was celebrated in the carnival-like atmosphere of a mini music festival of Raucus Rock and Roll and feasting on chicken wings and copious amounts of fluids intended to take the edge of the ghost pepper wings.  It was one of the most intense nights of our lives as people we had never met, people with some serious talent, people whose only intent was to try and help us played until the police came to ask if they could be a little quieter as the neighbors weren’t into Pink Floyd to the same level of intensity as some of the musicians.  These people of anonymity are a group of some 50+ musicians from the Triangle Area of North Carolina, their name – The Regulars (

2 days later we received a monetary gift from The Regulars, between sales, auctions and donations we were gifted the final monies that was the final stroke in wiping out Evan’s medical debt, and gave us the leeway to return to society as we were able, not based on a 3 day bereavement leave that is common.  By all words, they were a God send. With these men and women we walk our road with friends.

If friends don’t let friends drive drunk, then neither do they let them walk alone nor toward an empty abyss without some measure of common struggle.  The Regulars all play in other music groups, but gather together once a quarter to join forces to help someone.  These people are not lucky in their circumstance, nor are they lucky to have friends like The Regulars, they are people in need who do not see themselves as worthy of other people’s pity but would rather just have a commonality of knowing that they are not struggling alone, that their fight is a worthy one. 

For us we knew that The Regulars were friends for life that we would support them in the causes they brought forth because the causes are worthy, because the musicians hold an intense love for their music and the community in which they live, and they always choose a good place to eat.  And that Monday evening in late September we heard that they were finalizing the next worthy event for December.   Having been on the receiving end of this gift, we know that the cautious approach to the family to be supported is done with deft and caring, sensitivity and compassion, and it often takes a little time. 

So the next concert for The Regulars is tonight. The beneficiaries of their efforts are Michelle Morrell and The Christmas Store.  The Christmas Store is a classic seasonal organization geared toward gathering new unused toys to be distributed to families with limited resources so that parents are not left with deciding if kids should be fed instead of celebrating Christmas.  Michelle is a different story, and is the more difficult to share due to her circumstances.

First let me try and share with you a little about Michelle.  She is an awesome person.  Okay too simple.  She is an amazing human being.  No, no too superlative.  Okay, she is a wife, mother of two and a high school teacher – there you have it, she could take out Superman with a simple Kleenex and a dag of lip spittle.  But she is not just all that.  It is the inner juice that flows in a person that exudes the kind of love, passion, and talent that Michelle possesses and has shared with all who have touched her life.  It is this ‘heart’ that has her loved and thought of so highly by parents of students and past students, it is the ability to relate to students and they to her that on her darkest days her wish is to get back to her ‘kids’.

And she has some pretty dark days.  3 weeks before Evan wrote about Life, Roads, Journeys and Love, this is what Michelle wrote,

It's been a bumpy road so far.  I was diagnosed late April with metaplastic breast cancer.  I had a masectomy shortly after (May 11).  Then gave birth to my daughter Kara on May 29, she was 4 weeks early.  She weighed 6 lbs. at 36 weeks and is doing great.  She eats like a champ and is gaining weight quickly.  I then had a PET scan which showed several spots on my bones.  Next I had a bone biopsy, which was positive for cancer cells.  On June 29 I had my first set of treatments...a bone treatment as well has hormone therapy.  I had some side effects like bone/joint pain as well as fever/chills.  Luckily it has gone away for now.  Now I'm just tired from having a newborn!  :)

As you can tell this story is going to get hard to bear, but she is living what you are reading and the living is often not one mass of falling bricks, but just the will to take the next step, to purposely plan for an uncertain future and to find ways to keep food on the table and love in the home as you struggle with a medical system that is (as has been written here) often less than sympathetic to the circumstance of those in treatment, and less so for those in treatment with decent insurance.

Michelle’s cancer has not abated and continued a progression beyond the ability of any ‘normal’ course of therapy.  Two weeks after The Regulars show for Evan, Michelle was admitted to a double blind study of a new chemotherapy process, and she finds herself in a battle between succumbing to the cancer and surviving the treatments.  Each successful treatment so debilitates her ability to fight off common infections that she is susceptible to uncontrollable fevers and suffers from the need to maintain a sense of self-esteem in the light of side-effects that many of you are likely familiar with hearing about of seeing for yourself.  All this while maintaining a loving home for two beautiful daughters and a loving and deeply caring husband who would move heaven and earth to bring any measure of comfort or relief to his devoted wife and champion of his heart.

But tonight she is the focus of The Regulars.  A fellow teacher, Ryan, is an amazing guitar player, and if her weren’t teaching HS science should be in a studio in Nashville working his slide guitar for the music industry’s best and brightest.  He brought the situation to the band, and how could they do anything but pick this ball up and run with it.  Simple Kindness + Killer Live Music Events is their motto, their desire is to Give Until it hurts.

Michelle started a donation website for herself, not wanting to leave husband and children holding the bag of debt at the end of this part of her journey.  Whether medically successful or not, she will be in no shape to tackle the anticipated shortfall of $13,000, and given the challenges of self-promoted self-serving charity, she has only raised 10% of her goal. 

What am I calling on you to do?  How can you have a positive impact on a family in need during the season of giving? Simple, make a donation to the Michelle Morrell Cancer Fund.  The donation will not be tax deductible, it will neither save her life nor cure the financial wound cancer has caused to her family; but it will leave you knowing that when you saw someone in need you did not turn a blind eye.  This is not an appeal for $12,000 or $5,000; but could you see your way to committing $5 and 2 minutes of your time?  Could you share this story with others?

Would you give your mom a hand if she needed it?  If you saw the mother of 2 young children struggling to get her groceries into her car, would you help? If your favorite High School teacher needed a letter of recommendation of a former student, would you write?  Michelle is each of these people and represents an opportunity for you to make a difference in 4 people’s lives this year.  So I call on you to not live this season as Luther and Nora Krank nor Ebenezer Scrooge; but dedicate yourself to being just a regular Joe or Jill.  Reach out a helping hand with The Regulars, visit Michelle’s website
And become one of The Regulars by seeing a need and not turning a blind eye.

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