Saturday, October 13, 2012

Please send good thoughts to my friends

I have never been able to stand the expression, "God never gives you more than you can handle." Seriously, what kind of demented god would keep piling shit on you just because you've proven you can deal with it?  As if there's an old white man in heaven stroking his beard reasoning, "Hmmm, she handled that quite well.  Let's see what she does with this."

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.


Mimi said...

Exactly my sentiments on the "God never....", could never understand that logic.
Donna, your story, as told by Linda, is inspirational. You have a beautiful smile and I hope you'll be able to keep smiling through this challenge. good luck with the walk.

Taradharma said...

blasphemer! Just kidding on that one.

My heart goes out to Donna and Kevin, and all who love them. I have family members with Parkinson's and MS, and I found it works better for me if I understand the disease process, but try and stay in the moment. Otherwise I spin out on all the what-ifs. I wish you all the best on your current journey.

And that post you linked to Linda, wow. I remember it. I couldn't get over the frickin injustice of your friend's daughter's cancer and the leaving behind 6 mos. old babies. How in the world does "God" get away with that shit?

lightning36 said...

Hi Donna:

Sorry for all of life's crap that you have had to deal with. It sounds like you have a good support system, so I hope that will help.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Hey -- lemonade looks an awful lot like piss, so maybe that is not such a great saying. : o )

Sincerely, best wishes for you.

Lucki Duck said...

Friends are wonderful and I can feel the bond between you and Donna in your writing. I know she will count on your support and that you will be there for her and Kevin.

Mitch Albom (sic?) wrote a book titled "Tuesdays with Morie" that describes a friend of his that battled ALS. His message was similar to the last three words of your post, "love every minute."

Sending prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes to you Donna, and especially Kevin.

Anonymous said...

Linda, thank you so much for this post! You are truly a great friend! I appreciate all the great words and vibes from you and your readers. Oh, and lightning36, when life gives me lemons, I make a cocktail!! Thank you so much everyone!!! Love you, Linda!!


Sous-Chef said...


PEACE= {p} positive {e} energy {a} aimed {c} collectively {e} eastward.


Lori Biker said...

I just got home from being out with Donna and Gina. Lucky for me I live close to them still. We sure do miss having Linda Lou around. Next year we will celebrate our 50 years of friendship! It doesn't get any better than that! In the meantime, we have to have things to look forward to. Donna is a rock but she too needs someone sometimes!! We are all so lucky to have each other!!!

clahain said...

I have been wondering about the "WHYs" of the universe a lot lately. I like to think that someone is up there looking out for us, though it's hard to believe that sometimes. The past year or so, it seems as if God has put my entire extended family on some sort of hit list, so I understand what Donna must be feeling--raw, shell-shocked, and not sure from which direction the next blow will come. I can only say that there are still beautiful moments in each day. That's what I'm trying to do--live moment by moment and wait for this harsh weather to pass.

Mandy B said...

Donna, I don't have anything wise to say, just sending positive thoughts your way ~~~ Mandy B

Lyn said...

Luckily, I know and love both Donna and Kevin. They are an inspiring couple, who have helped me through the hard times on more than one occasion. Because that's the kind of people they are...always there for someone else. I feel honored to have them call me their friend. Donna knows I'm praying for them all. Thanks, Linda, for your great post about these great people. Just remember, miracles do happen...


Taradharma said...

Listening to Tig's stand-up. She's fookin brilliant.