Radical Roll-a-Thon

Valuing things greatly

Radical Roll-a-Thon
Wrote once that our friends reflect some part of us. It’s why friendship exists. I’m honored that we have such amazing people in our lives that see something of themselves in us and vice versa.

In three days, on January 7th, 2017, Radical MMA is having a Roll-a-thon fund-raiser for Alison, which they planned – as with the others – wholly as a surprise for us. The way it works is as follows:

Participants find sponsors (family, friends, companies, brands, etc) that donate per hour of roll. Each participant will start rolling for as long as they can, starting at 10AM.

For example, if Mariko has five sponsors donating $10 per an hour and ends up rolling for four hours, then she raises $200 for Alison.

You can click our YouCaring link to sponsor any one of the people below:

Mariko and Rene Dreifuss
Rene is the owner of the gym, my dear friend, and my instructor; Mariko is his talented wife who designs all the cool images for these fundraisers. If you’re at all interested in starting something new and (very) physically and mentally challenging, consider signing up at Radical MMA and supporting these two lovely people, who spend so much time supporting Alison and me. As an added bonus, you can always watch Rene abuse me on the mats, which he does with alarming regularity.

Alesya Yelisow
She ran in the Tough Mudder last year with the others for Alison. I always feel bad for the guy that thinks he’ll take it easy on her because she’s a girl. Then again, it’s very entertaining.

Balaji Sudhakar Subramani
It’s a good thing he’s part of the gym, because when he and I are both there, I think that Rene is torn as to whom to abuse, which gives me a 50/50 shot at a reprieve from something called The Japanese.

Chad Hernandez
He’s my other main coach in the gym and the guy in this picture. We call him “Damn Chad” because, he’s so good that, at some point rolling with him, you’ll inevitably say “Damn, Chad – what just happened?”

Donald Trainor and Drew Cotton
I put them together because they both had their own personal fundraisers for Alison, for which I am very grateful, and because my relationship with each of them is much like the video below, but with less explosives and more choking.

Elizabeth Harney
Liz isn’t rolling because of work, but not for lack of trying. She was the one that organized the Tough Mudder for Alison, which meant so much to us. An artist by trade – she has some work in a show this Sunday – I told her that most of my legal clients were artists; obviously, she has a lawyer for life.

Jeff Bagby

Jeff is another 40-something but he’s much, much, much better than I. He was one of the first people that I spoke to about Alison. He got me in touch with a survivor of brain cancer, which was a lifeline at the time as that was some hope when we needed it the most.

Joshua Martinez
A chef by trade, he also ran in the Tough Mudder for Alison and first turned me on to the wonders of turmeric. If it wasn’t for our current situation, I’m fairly certain I’d be irritating him by showing up where he works for food.

Laura N. Benítez
Laura used to work around the corner from my pad. I told her that we would grab coffee before/after class one day but then she up and moved to California for a new adventure. Ah, to be young and carefree and studying how to choke people. I’m glad she’s back if only for a bit and to roll for Alison.

Max Kuba
He’s a fellow tech that also happens to be the gym’s unofficial dietitian. When Alison dropped to her lowest weight, he gave me some invaluable ideas to get her stable. I still consult with him now for eating tips and terrible puns.

Megan Frazier
She’s one of the people in our gym that I think might go pro one of these days. Looking forward to that and being her agent. I expect the standard 10%.

Miguel Belmonte
Miguel is the other 40-something in a school of 20-somethings. While he’s an actor from Spain, I believe we think the exact same thing every time we leave the mat: “Man, this is gonna hurt tomorrow.”

Mike Robinson
He was actually a student at my fencing class but, with a background in wrasslin, told him Radical might be a better fit. Years later, he’s much better than I. How I hate him.

Good ole Charlie Brown.
Good old Charlie Brown.

Robert Haffeman
Half-man is one of the top athletes in our gym. He’s also ridiculously tall, handsome, kind, and intelligent with a wife who’s beautiful both inside and outside. How I hate him as well.

Roger Song
A fellow Cornell-grad who prevents me from saying that I’m the best Cornell grad fighter there.

Roslyn Lo
My cousin, whom I love and am very proud of for being the badass she is. I resent that she is younger, arguably stronger, and more attractive than me.

Sawyer Speilberg
Is an actor and one of main training partners. I think he could be a pretty good fighter if he devoted himself to it but I won’t encourage him because his mom, an actress herself (who was in a small film back in the day) sent Alison $5,000 for the Tough Mudder and I think she’d be mad at me if I did.

Simon Ying
We took a train together once and he stayed on well past his stop to tell me more about the woman he was dating at the time. Wasn’t too surprised when they got hitched: You wanna marry someone who forgets to get off a train because he’s telling someone else how great you are.

Sohail Mathur
Is an example of a small world; he actually knew my cousin Roslyn even before he started there. I don’t see much of him but am touched he still volunteered for this.

Yu Ji
As irritated as I am with Half-Man, it’s doubly true for Ji as he’s all those things and Chinese. Here’s him being taller and younger than me at ComicCon a few years back.
Me and Ji

Finally a quick thanks to Henry Cho, and Jonathan Chan who can’t roll but have already agreed to sponsor others, and Philip Chen, whom I told you about previously. I just heard that Farouk Araki, whom I don’t know very well, is also rolling for Alison – and that’s why this is so cool. People helping others just because…

The kindest thing you can do for someone is to value greatly what they value greatly. I value nothing greater than Alison and the kid.

Damn, I hope someone takes video. This is cool.

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Location: home, wondering if I should see the doc about my back
Mood: touched
Music: when I think that I’m alone it seems there’s more of us
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Obamacare FUD

Thinking of stuff

Inflatable Rat in New York City

In a fit of irritation, I wrote on social media a few months back that if people really cared about Alison, they would make sure Trump didn’t get into office.

Relatives that supported Trump irritated me the most so I had to block several of them just so any future family gatherings wouldn’t be ridic awkward.

I was pretty shocked at some of the vitriol I received from this. For example, this lawyer I’ve never met in my life named Jason Zhou called me “disgusting” for discussing Alison’s sickness and politics.

Human decency aside, I’m surprised at how little people seem to understand just how government works.

People have been asking me how our New Year’s Eve went. Everyone was in bed by 9PM. Me? I welcomed in the new year reading about how Republicans were planning to try to gut Obamacare within the first few months of office.

My gym is having yet another fundraiser for Alison – I think this might count as the sixth or seventh (more on that this week).

My coach asked me how much I would need for basic living and all the treatments I am hoping for. That’s a difficult question to answer. If our insurance stays in place, perhaps as little as $60,000 a year, “little” being a relative term. If it doesn’t, even without any new surgeries, we’re looking at well over half-a-million dollars.

The truth is, if we lost Obamacare, I’d simply have to return to work. The main issues are two-fold:

  1. We’d have to hire a caretaker for Alison until she gets stronger, and
  2. She’s still unable to walk and use her left arm – so we’d also have to hire a PT coach.

I have the option to go back to work if I have to, millions don’t.

Several articles came out recently where people that voted for Trump didn’t take him seriously when he said he’d repeal Obamacare. My first question is: Why would they take that risk?

In any case, we start 2017 slightly better than we started 2016, but with new worries. And we’ve had enough worries for a lifetime.

Her: I wish I could go back to work.
Me: Someday you will.
Her: What if we lose our insurance?
Me: I’ll think of something. I’m always thinking of stuff.

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Location: home, still trying to get some relief for my @#$@#$ back
Mood: concerned
Music: Oh, but I need some time off from that emotion
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Thanks, George

Let’s hope 2017 is better

Clocks in a New York City flea market

As a break from my usual tales of woe, lemme tell you some stories.

In sixth grade, the girl I had a crush on wore a shirt that said GO GO. Had no idea what it was about but, of course, I had to find out. No internet meant asking the popular kids, who just rolled their eyes because I never heard about WHAM!

Got my hands on a tape of them and I thought that they were ok. They were no Beatles but not altogether terrible.

Found out later that, as a child, George Michael was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to him.

And here’s why it matters to me that he just died: It was honestly, the first time I really thought that the trajectory of my life might be different than it was. That even though I was a fat and lonely son of immigrants that wore glasses and couldn’t get a girl to talk to me, that it didn’t always have to be that way.

So I kept listening to him, impressed that he wrote and produced almost all of what he sang.

Enough that, when I had scraped together enough scratch from busing tables at the local Italian joint, the first two CDs I ever bought were Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun and Wham’s Music from the Edge of Heaven.

That girl that I had a crush on and I grew up together so that, when Faith came out, we were pretty good friends. By then, I’d decided that George was the coolest guy in the world. I bought shiny aviator glasses like he wore in the video. Because that’s what kids do.

The crush girl told me I looked like a bug. Told her that if it was good enough for George, it was good enough for me. He was old news, she said – but not to me.

Listened to I Knew You Were Waiting by George Michael and Aretha Franklin as I wrote my college essay. It was one of the few songs he didn’t write but that didn’t matter that much to me.

When I got to college, the two albums of my freshman year were Naughty by Nature and George’s Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Dude never released Volume 2. I woulda bought it.

Discussing music, my first freshman writing teacher said George wasn’t that great. He was no Beatle and, to her, somewhat terrible. I said she should give it a chance. She gave me a B+ instead.

It was always Waiting for that Day from that’s meant the most to me. Don’t think he ever even released a video for it but there’s a part that goes:

I just sit here on this mountain thinking to myself
You’re a fool boy
Why don’t you go down
Find somebody
Find somebody else
My memory serves me far too well

It dovetails nicely with a Chinese story I told you once about a man who sat on a mountain waiting sixty years for a flower to bloom as penance for betraying the woman he loved.

Suppose we’re all waiting for someone and someday. I heard that the man George loved the most in his life died just six months after he met him, which I always thought was terribly sad. His mom passed from cancer when he was just 34.

That’s the thing with tragedy, it gives you depth, but at such a price.

Maybe that’s why the songs I loved from him the most were about waiting and longing, two things I knew well growing up and, unfortunately, even now.

As it turns out, the person that I was waiting for in my mountain of brick and mortar was Alison. I wait for her still.

But I digress. Rumor has it that he died overweight and alone. That really bothers me. Perhaps it’s because that’s how I imagined I’d be now when I was a kid.

I could go on for a while. Just lemme say: George, you were the soundtrack to my childhood and you gave me hope that my life might be different for the better. And it was. In some ways, it still is, and others, far worse than I could have imagined.

Thanks for the hope, man. As for me, I hope you find the love the next life that eluded you in this one.

Me: I think my very favorite song from him is I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.
Her: I don’t like that song.
Me: How are we married?!


Crap, Debbie Reynolds died also. It’s like all the little bits of my childhood are determined to go before the year’s out.

This song sums up my thoughts as to her:

Here’s to 2017; let’s hope its better for everyone.

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Location: lying on the floor, listening to George, trying to get some relief for my @#$@#$ back
Mood: nostalgic
Music: Seems to me the peace I search to find ain’t going to be mine
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Still better

Everything is relative

New York City Bus
Christmas was a bust.

Alison’s dad came from another state to see her, as did her sister, but Alison wasn’t up for anything. She had a cold, as did I and the kid. Plus, she was pretty rough most of the week.

Her dad left after only a few hours; her sister stayed, as did her mom, who’s been staying with us anyway.

I ended up throwing out my back as well, for the first time. When I was younger, I got older but I didn’t feel it. Not anymore.

If you’ve never been 43, sick, with a bad back and a spouse with brain cancer, you’re doing better than me. Lemme tell you, it’s an exquisite type of f___kery.

Plus, George Michael died, which impacted me enough that I wrote something about it for Friday.

There’s more, but you get the point: By any metric, this was a craptastic holiday.

Having said that, the truth is that it was still better – considerably – than Christmas last year.

Last year, she was in the hospital and we didn’t know if she’d make it a week. She also didn’t remember much. I had to tell her that she had cancer, over and over again. It was a fresh new hell each time.

This year, she was with me, her family, and the baby. And at night, she felt better enough to hang out with all of us for a few hours.

Everything is relative. All emotional pain lies in that gap between expectation and reality.

A year ago, I sat alone on a city bus the day after Christmas, wondering if I’d lose her before the ball fell for the new year. Now we have a bit of hope.

I’ll take this Christmas over that one any time. By our standards as of late, it was a great Christmas.

———–

Carrie Fisher died. She and Lynda Carter were my very first crushes.

She was a hero for those with mental illness, and for that, I will always respect her. But that’s a post for another day.

Man, 2016 blows.

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Location: trying to find some comfortable way to sit
Mood: pained
Music: Well it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me
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Whales, squid, China, and monsters

May you never see monsters

Display of sperm whale and giant squid battling in the Museum of Natural History

This blogger wrote an interesting fact about giant squid, which are monsters that average about 42 feet in length. Their biggest enemy is the sperm whale, another monster that averages 52 feet in length.

Giant squid are considered commonplace in the oceans yet if you go to wikipedia, there’re almost no pictures. Because none have ever been caught alive. They’ve almost never been seen, even though they’re, evidently, all over the place.

  • There are 360,000 sperm whales.
  • Assume one eats one giant squid a month, that’s 360,000 giant squid eaten each month.
  • That’s 12,000 eaten each day. (360,000/30=12,000)
  • That’s 500 each hour. (12,000/24=500)
  • That’s 8.3 eaten each minute. (500/60=8.3)
  • That’s about one every 7 seconds.

One a month is a really conservative figure: if it’s one per week, that number jumps to one squid being eaten every  1.7 seconds. But scientists, examining the bellies of caught sperm whales, think even that is too low.

They think that they’re eating between 3-8 per day. If that’s the case, as the blogger noted, that means that there are over 3 million – over 3.6 million, really – of these life-and-death battles between these two giant monsters happening every day.

Hold that thought.

You know, years ago when I worked in China, I remember telling this young executive that I needed to call my parents to give them my opinion on a second family car to replace my mom’s old one.

Him: (rolling eyes) You’re telling me that your family has two cars? Each of your parents have a car?
Me: (puzzled) Yeah, it’s pretty common. Most families have two cars. I have a car too.
Him: (scoffing) You have THREE cars?! That’s impossible. (sarcastically) Everyone in America must be a millionaire then.

Speaking of China, when my sister was there teaching English, she said that some parents wanted their kids pulled from class because they didn’t want their kids learning English from a Chinese person.

Her: (confused) But I grew up in America. It’s my first language.
Them: (ignoring her) No, I want my children learning from an American.
Her: But I’m an American!

Not to pick on just China, just recently, I told a relative that I didn’t eat for three months as a teenager and lost about 60 pounds. She too scoffed that it was impossible.

Was thinking about alla these stories the other day as Alison strapped a five-pound weight onto her weak leg and managed to lift it ten times, which is something that, if you knew what she has been through, is as impossible to me as those stories above were to those people.

There are people are fighting these impossible and monstrous battles every day; while it’s commonplace to them, it’s alien to us. Alison struggles to stand, to eat, to have any semblance of a normal life.

It’s something that one can’t fully comprehend unless one has experienced it.

And good god, I hope you never do. I hope you never battle monsters and I hope you never experience the hell that is a stage four cancer. I hope you never experience all-too-possible impossible horror.

That’s my Christmas wish to you: May you never see monsters.

Me: Can you do one more?
Her: I’ll try.

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Location: in front of two five-pound weights
Mood: hoping
Music: I’m always pretty happy when I’m just kicking back with you
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Daring Greatly

Looking for a way out

Columbus Circle Subway Station NYC

Her: Should we do it?
Me: We might not get it. It might not work. It also might hurt you and set us back. But if it does work, it’ll give you the best shot at a normal life. 
Her: And if it doesn’t?

We had a quiet Thanksgiving. Her mom and sister were here.

Didn’t really enjoy it as much as I could have because a month earlier, got a bill for $802.12 from a hospital. Was fighting it when the hospital turned around and submitted a bill for $96,662.80 to us just before the holidays. Something else to battle.

Then again, if I had known they’d change it from $802.12 to $96,662.80, maybe I’d have just paid it.

On somewhat related note, we had another MRI this past week. Her scans are stable again; unchanged from September.

While this is good news, just like the last time, was hoping for shrinkage.

If you’ve never seen an MRI, cancer shines like a white neon light, against a background of grey. It’s unmistakable.

As always, those two bits of cancer lit up. Also as always, felt that gnawing fear in my belly.

Here’s the thing, the alternative of stability could have easily been growth. And these are much smaller bits versus the grapefruit-sized tumor in her head initially.

We’ve been doing some pretty highly experimental stuff for the past year, which might explain why the scans are stable. Now I’m pushing for her to try some even more potent stuff.

Every decision, wonder if it’s the right one and I wonder if I’ll regret not being content with what we have. The $802.12 versus the $96,662.80. Tofua versus London.

But only for a moment. We have to push against this damn thing because it’s always pushing against us.

Years ago, wrote about Teddy Roosevelt who said to always try because the person that tries:

at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring, at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

If there’s anything she does, she tries. She dares, greatly. F__k this thing.

Me: Then we’ll find another way.
Her: (thinking) I want to try.
Me: (nodding) I knew you would. Thank you.

———-

One of my other atomic bombs went off.

I’d really like 2016 to be over already.

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Location: waiting for the dentist
Mood: struggling
Music: It kissed your scalp and caressed your brain
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It’s been a year; here’s what happened that night

Searching for NED

Alison pregnant

As I write this, Alison sits outside talking to the baby.

A year ago around this time, she and I excitedly hopped a cab to the hospital a few blocks away to have our first child. This was after years of disappointments. That’s a picture of her above just before the big day.

Didn’t tell you all about her being pregnant because we’d been disappointed, oh, so many times.

Words can’t really describe how it felt during that time. To say that we were excited and happy doesn’t really doesn’t do justice to amount of joy we had.

Nate’s birth was, thankfully, quiet and uneventful. But Alison was…off.

She was clumsy, which has always been my role in the relationship. She was never clumsy. But we all just attributed it to her being a first time mother.

Five short days later, she said simply, “Something’s wrong” and collapsed, shaking into a terrifying full seizure.

The ambulance came and took her away to the exact same hospital that we were just at to give birth to Nate. I went with her. After several anxious hours in the ER, the doctor said that her blood looked “great.” We breathed a sign of relief.

But, there’s something on your CAT scan.

To this day, dunno why he didn’t lead with that.

A few anxiety and tear filled days later, another young doctor pulled me into his room and he pulled up her MRIs.

Even as a lay person, I immediately knew something was wrong. The cancer looked as it were half her brain.

Me: Is she dying?
Doctor: (coughing) Well…we’re all dying, aren’t we?

I wanted to punch him in his cowardly face. We weren’t getting the most emotionally intelligent doctors here. It didn’t matter anyway. I knew the moment I saw the picture. We only had a few months.

Got up and walked over and somehow told her what it was. She didn’t believe me at first. It must be some mistake, she said. But it wasn’t.

Words can’t really describe how it felt during that time. To say that we were anxious and terrified really doesn’t do justice to the amount of heartbreak we had.

Unbelievably, I had to repeat the process several gut-wrenching times over the next few months.

Dunno how much time I spent with her. Could have been an hour. Could have been thirty.

Then I told her that I had to go to the bathroom. Walked out the door and asked a nurse where the nearest one was.

Out the door to the right, and then another right. It’ll be on your left.

Thanked her, made a right, another right, and stepped into the bathroom on the left. Walked into the stall, and sat there by myself and said, “What the f___?”

Dunno how much time I spent there. Could have been a minute. Could have been thirty.

Afterward, got up, walked over to the sink, and told myself that I could do this. That she could do this. Splashed cold water on myself to make sure it wasn’t all a bad dream and I needed to wake up. It wasn’t. Repeated it just in case.

Nope, still in this goddamn hospital. So I went out, made a right, then a left, and then sat with her for another week in that goddamn hospital.

Alison cried every hour after that. I cried every night. At the time, it was the worst period of my life. Didn’t realize that there could be – and was – far worse to come. Said it before, there’s always more room for down (and the link before this comment is to an entry where we lost yet another baby).

Yet things have somehow improved, slightly. At least to the point where Alison is stable, for now. For some, this would be enough but it’s not for me. Like Bligh, I want us to go home.

Wish we could go back into time before she was brittle, or to the future, to see how she and the boy are.

Brain cancer is something so deadly that, unlike other cancers, there’s no such thing as remission. Instead, the best you can hope for is something they call NED: No Evidence of Disease.

We’re not there. There’re two small pieces of tumor still in her head. Like bullet fragments inching towards her soul. I’ll never sleep soundly again until they’re gone. Until we see NED. Even then, I’ll always be uneasy.

But the doctors didn’t think that she was going to last more than a few months. So we’re slightly hopeful.

And, as I’ve done throughout my life, I’ll struggle with whether or not the hope is a good or bad thing. And we wait for NED.

Her: (a year ago today, crying) Will I die?
Me: I won’t lie to you; it’s not good. But I won’t let you. Be strong, ok? We got a kid now. He needs you.
Her: (through tears) It’s not fair. I only had a few days with him.
Me: You’re right, it’s not fair. But you’ll get more days. I promise. I’ll do whatever it takes for you to get more days.

Nate just a few seconds old

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Location: home, waiting for more tests
Mood: pensive
Music: build time machines to go and get us back, back before we were brittle
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Halloween 2016

Alison and the kid say Hello again

Me, Alison, and the kid
The last time I posted a pic of Alison, all hell broke loose a few days later. But we can’t live in fear, can we?

Me: The past few days have been pretty good, all things considered…
Her: That’s good to hear.
Me: …so don’t screw it up.

———-

A year ago, around this time, Alison was close to nine months pregnant and super excited for this (2016) Halloween to happen. I remember that we discussed all the possible things we might do.

She never thought then, of course, that she’d be battling for her life for most of 2016.

Man, who’d ever think such a thing?

Anywho, woke her up yesterday and showed her the kid as Batman and she smiled. Alison’s mother and I put her in a Batgirl shirt and I put on a Nightwing shirt, for those of you that know what that means.

Then we took the picture you see above.

Her best friend stopped by, unexpectedly, as well so they chatted like old times.

It wasn’t the Halloween we had hoped for last year. But it wasn’t all bad. Any day she’s happy’s a good day.

Her: (laughing) I’ll do my best.

Batman hears a call for help

Commissioner Gordon: What is it?
Batman: Danger, Commissioner. Danger. (leaps)

The kid, sleeping

Commissioner: Did you just fall down?
Batman: ….No

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Location: home
Mood: busy
Music: there’s nothing else in our lives so critical, as this little home
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No one ever said it would be this hard

Thank you for setting her apart

Two empty chairs outside NYC restaurant

Alison’s been pretty stoic about everything that’s happened. Every once in a while, though, the gravity of the situation hits her – and us.

After dinner the other day, The Scientist came on and when they got to the part that went:

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me

she started to cry.

Her: It’s so sad.
Me: “Come back and haunt me?”
Her: (thinking) Yes, that is sad. I try not to think about things like that. But that’s not the line that makes me so sad. It’s the one that goes, “Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.” (pause) I can’t believe it’s been so hard.
Me: As long as we have 1% of 1%, we’ll keep trying.
Her: I will. I’ll always fight this.

Years ago, told you that I met a girl and set her apart from everyone else in the world. That’s what happens when you come across something or someone special.

That girl Annabel from my last entry wrote me to tell me that she hosted a fundraiser at her home to help Alison and sent us a – wholly unexpected – check. Below is a picture from the fundraiser. I only personally know one person, Annabel. And Alison knows no one.

But each of these strangers, like so many others, have gone far outta their way to help us.

There are 880,000 words in the English language. And yet there are no words to adequately express my gratitude that, in this past horrifying year, so many people have set Alison apart as well.

Suppose I’ll just have to settle for thank you, as always, however inadequate it feels to me.

Fundraiser for Alison

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Location: home, making food
Mood: sick
Music: You don’t know how lovely you are
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Look for the helpers

Thanks for helping

Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

Went on a kinda roadtrip this past weekend. Was the first time I’d been out of New York City since this entire thing went down with Alison.

We needed a washer/dryer, you see. The laundrymat around the way just closed and having a kid and a sick wife means laundry. Lots of laundry.

A woman was selling her ten-month old set out in NJ but I’d no means of getting to her. So I asked on FB if there was anyone I could hire to move it for me.

A friend-of-a-friend named Phil immediately said he’d pick me and bring me over. A few hours later, was in the car with a relative stranger on the way to another stranger’s house in New Jersey to either pick up a washer/dryer or get stabbed. It was the former, luckily.

Phil helped me haul this monstrosity out of this lady’s house. As we struggled in the rain to get it into Phil’s car, the lady started to cry. She was moving cause she had to, not cause she wanted to and couldn’t take this thing with her.

I told her not to cry, that she’d be ok. She smiled and told me I would be as well. Let’s hope we don’t make liars of each other.

After a slow drive back into the city, Phil and a neighbor helped me haul this thing into my home. Tried stuffing $100 into Phil’s glove compartment but he wouldn’t take it and just took off with a smile and a wave.

Spent the rest of the day moving it into place with the help of some other neighbors and hooking the whole thing up. Was late when it was all over.

Fred Rogers used to tell children that, when they were frightened, to “Look for the helpers.”

Alison’s cancer has been many things, all of which were anxiety producing.

And anxiety is just a fancy word for fear.

But the helpers have made it better – friends, strangers, and family.

You know, this girl named Annabel shows up at my doorstep every Wednesday with some insanely good homemade food she cooks. And a fella named Anthony brings food from his restaurant every Thursday. And then there’s a girl named Kristin comes over a couple of times a week to do PT with Alison. They were strangers to us.

Plus we have friends like Rain, who just built me something to make the washer work better and Alison’s best friend Lacey, who sends someone to watch the kid almost every day.

It’s all been frightening. But the helpers make it less so.

Her: Who was that?
Me: Someone who wanted to help us.
Her: That’s really nice of him.
Me: It is. It really is. Get some rest.

DONATIONS

Location: last weekend, the West Side Highway going 10 mph
Mood: slightly less anxious
Music: I fight. Now I’m away
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