So when I hear the old "God never gives you..." line, I want to projectile vomit. Especially when I think of my friend Donna. We met in the summer of 1963, when her family rented the upstairs flat next to the upstairs flat my family lived in. I was not yet 6 years old; Donna was 5. She and her younger sister, Gina, were "Vatican twins" less than a year apart and her older brother, Frank, had just turned 7. My sister Lori, the baby of our gang, would be 4 that December. We played together every day.
In 1968 my parents bought a house on Lincoln Avenue, about eight blocks away. One of the happiest days of my childhood was when I got the news that the Saccas had bought a house around the block on Kent Street, meaning we'd be neighbors again.
|Donna, me, Gina, Lori -- BFFs since 1963|
The friendship between the Haber girls and the Sacca girls has been going strong for almost 50 years now. Frank died in January 2001 at the age of 44, leaving a grown daughter from his first marriage and a young son, Nicholas, from his second. I think Nick was about eight when his father passed away. Sadly, Nick's mother suffered from Huntington's Disease, and when she got to the point where she could no longer care for him, he went to live with his Aunt Donna and her husband, Kevin. Donna would take Nick to visit his mother in her apartment, and later in the nursing home, all the while providing love and emotional support to a boy who'd lost one parent and had to endure the pain of watching the other slowly succumb to the grips of a truly horrible condition. Nick's mother lost her battle in 2010.
Donna is the rock of her entire family; she's the one who was there for her mother during her ordeal with breast cancer and for Gina when she faced some difficult life transitions. Nick is now in college and is quite the musician, Donna's youngest child just started high school and you'd think that maybe now she and Kevin might be able to take a deep breath and relax a bit. They have a wonderful relationship--now should be their time to enjoy each other, right?
Well, several months ago Kevin was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I don't have to tell you how serious that is. Oh, and if that's not enough, he also has MS.
As you know, I'm big on the whole "The universe unfolds in divine order" crap, but I've never been able to understand why my sainted Beautiful Aunt Joyce had to die so young of breast cancer--and go through all the crap that she did--and why my dear friend Donna, who's tied with Joyce in the Nicest Person on Earth contest, has yet another challenge to face.
I don't want answers because they're going to be stupid, like the "God must have a plan" bullshit. And besides, there are no answers. I just want to vent, and ask you to send positive thoughts to Donna and her family.
Donna will be participating in a walk to benefit the ALS Regional Center in Albany through St. Peter's Hospital Foundation, and if you're so inclined to give, go to this website and select "St. Peter's ALS Regional Center" in honor of Kevin Koch. That would be awesome, but money is just money, you know? Donna reads every post on this blog, and if you could leave a comment with a few words of encouragement, that would be really, really nice. I know she would appreciate it.
Trust me, if you knew Donna you would love her. She's positive and fun loving and has a great sense of humor. Always, always smiling. I've never seen anyone smile so much. I'm jealous that she doesn't have a bit of cellulite, but no wonder--God doesn't give you more than you can handle. Isn't that right?
|Kevin and Donna|
Thank you again and again, and don't forget to love every minute.