As awful as it was to lose my parents, and to watch my dad struggle to try to recover, the people around me renewed my faith in love and human beings. So many of them – friends, co-workers, strangers, professionals – went out of their way to be kind and do whatever they could to help.
A year after the crash, a dear family friend, folksinger Mark Dvorak and friends of his, the band Thursday’s Child, agreed to perform at a concert I organized to raise funds for the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM). The night was special in so many ways, including the wonderful songs, the many people who attended, St. Barbara’s Church, which donated its space, and the fact that my mom and dad had supported Mark’s musical career early on, something he always remembered and was able to talk about during the show.
The night of the concert was bitter cold and snowy, yet we had over 100 people there from all parts of the Chicago area. A man named Ryan who had witnessed the crash attended. I had seen his name on the police report but didn’t know until later that he was the one who identified the vehicle that hit my parents. He stopped that night to tell me that he’d seen my parents crossing the street just before the crash. They were arm in arm and he said they were smiling. He felt that they looked happy. He left shortly after that, and my sense is he attended and donated the suggested amount mainly so he could tell me that. It meant so much to me to know that my parents looked happy in those last moments. And that someone cared enough to seek me out and tell me.
After my dad’s death the Chicago Tribune ran an article about the volunteer work my parents did. A woman I didn’t know sent a note saying that she’d read the article and it inspired her to increase her own volunteer work. She wrote that she had not known my parents personally, but she was sure from what she read that they were wonderful people and that they had made a difference in the world. I’m tearing up as I write this. It was so kind of her to send the note, and it came at a time when I so needed to find something positive to hang onto.
Things that friends did for which I’m forever grateful: Adela called people she knew and many she didn’t know to tell them about first my mom’s and then, six weeks later, my dad’s funeral arrangements. We have a large extended family on both sides and our family has many friends, and this was invaluable. She also, on a day’s notice, baked a casserole large enough to feed 10 for family members from out of town. Mindy drove me around to run errands that just seemed overwhelming to me when my dad was in the hospital and I hated to be away from his side. Andrea sent me a list of things she might be able to help with, and that in itself was a blessing, as it lessened the amount I had to think about. I ultimately asked her to help me take down my Christmas tree, which had still been up on January 22 when the crash happened, and I didn’t take down until late March. Steve not only loaned me his car almost every weekday to drive to the hospital after work, he then took a cab or got a ride to the hospital to drive me back home, knowing how tired and stressed I felt. These are only a few of the things friends did and offered to do, and it meant the world to me.
The world is full of amazing, kind, wonderful people.