I bought two copies of your “Have a Little Faith” book the first day it was released, Sept 29th. One copy for me, one copy for my best friend Lisa, (best friends since I was 17 years old and she was 16 (I’m 53 years old now). We both enjoy your column and all of your non-sports books and we enjoy chatting about them during our deep discussions about life and our kids etc. Usually I get your latest book signed before I give it to Lisa, but you weren’t going to be near Plymouth, Mi at the time and Lisa had been in the University of Michigan hospital for a few weeks and I knew your book would cheer her up and keep her fighting to live. A few weeks prior to your books release Lisa had discovered a blood clot in her leg and then a clot went to her lungs and then clots starting forming everywhere. She referred to it as, “…clots gone wild” and the doctors tried everything to stop clots from forming and determine the root cause. Soon she had clots in both arms, her legs, her heart as well as her lungs and changing blood thinners didn’t help. She was scared and didn’t want to be alone so her sister-in-law Carole and I both split up our days so that one of us was always with her, we even slept in a recliner next to her hospital bed. (I lost my job in April and hadn’t found another and I was then so glad to be unemployed because it allowed me to devote each day to helping Lisa) Lisa was a fast reader but she was always being sent for more tests or had doctors crowded around in her hospital room that it was taking Lisa a lot longer for her to read your book. She always had it next to her on her tray table and hospital staff would always ask her about it. (I liked the title too because I was hoping it would inspire her to keep fighting.) Lisa was such a treaure to everyone who knew her, she always made everyone feel like they were special and that they were a close friend. So many people were calling her on her cell phone by her bed and calling her family and trying to visit when she felt so ill and really wasn’t well enough for visitors (..that’s why she was in the hospital!) that we didn’t know what to do. A friend then showed me a website that U of M offers called CAREPAGES, where anyone can create a quick website and update it daily and family and friends will get an automated e-mail linking them to the updates each time one is written. I then began to write updates daily on Lisa’s progress. It really had an effect on her family, they could now focus on visiting and helping Lisa and didn’t have to respond to so many phone calls, and it stopped concerned people from visiting. I would take notes in the hospital and then after 12 hours with Lisa or after spending the night I would go home and write my updates and read a little more of your book. Your writing style was in my head each day as I wrote. Each person who wanted to read these updates had to register with the site. There are over 200 people that read the updates on Lisa and they posted over 400 messages to cheer-on Lisa. We kept telling Lisa about CAREPAGES but she didn’t want to see it. One day Carole brought in her laptop to Lisa’s bedside and brought up the messages and suggested Lisa read them, that they would help her feel better and be inspired. Then Carole left her room to go to the cafeteria. Lisa read all of the messages. It kept her going for quite a few days but then Lisa asked for the laptop again so she could write to everyone who was following her progress. Lisa thanked everyone who had “cut her lawn, brought her husband food etc.etc.” She thanked her brother for being a “rock” and helping her get more tests run. She thanked Carole and I for being with her day and night. She thanked her kids, she thanked her husband of 37 years….She never read my daily updates…she didn’t want to “relive” this nightmare..but she read the messages and looked at all the pictures of her we posted. I know this message is getting to be longer than I planned so I will try to skip more details and get to the end. Lisa was in the hospital about 8 weeks. The last few weeks she was in the intensive care unit. She contracted pneumonia along with everything else and then clots started forming in her arteries in addition to her veins. She begged to be put on a ventilator, as she struggled to breath for two days and was exhausted. The doctors agreed to put her on the ventilator because they knew they needed to operate on her leg now because of a new clot in an artery. The plan was for her to be heavily sedated (unconscious), get breathing relief with the ventilator for a few days and go through surgery to remove this latest clot in her leg, otherwise she would lose her leg. She would then be removed from the ventilator and awakened and her breathing would be easier and surgery would be over. When Lisa was wheeled away to surgery and to be put on the ventilator she gave all of us a big smile and a thumbs-up….but Lisa never came off the ventilator. Clots continued to form in arteries, she had 3 emergency surgeries on both her legs over the next 4 days and the doctors couldn’t stop the clots from forming. Her lungs were getting worse as well. The doctors had done all they could for Lisa but they were unable to find the cause for this aggressive clotting disorder. The family decided to shift the doctors goals away from keeping Lisa alive on the ventilator to continuing to keep Lisa the most comfortable she could be.On Friday the 13th, with a Deacon praying with Carole and I and other family members at her bedside, and more family in a waiting room, Lisa passed away at the very end of a prayer. We had told her it was alright to “go”…and she did.
We all cried and hugged. I have now realized this was the end of an era…and era of always having someone I couldn’t wait to share a story with…someone who was always there if I needed her, even if we hadn’t talked in a week or so…always having someone who made you feel like you mattered in this tough world….and I never said Goodbye…A day later I was at Lisa’s house and noticed the book, “Have a Little Faith” was already in the bookcase. Lisa’s husband, Mike (a/k/a neat-nik) had already put it away. I could see something was sticking out of the book…it was the business card of Dr.McDreamy (that’s what Lisa and I fondly called him behind his back…that’s not his real name, it was Dr.Constanza.) and it was marking page 247. I wasn’t done reading my copy of the “Have a Little Faith” book, so I glanced to see where Lisa was when she stopped reading….my eyes were drawn to the italicized words on the page, “”Please love one another, talk to one another, don’t let trivialities dissolve friendships…” then the next italicized words were: “Good-Bye friends, good-bye friends, good-bye, good-bye, see you again, see you again, good-bye.”I know this was Lisa’s way of saying Good-bye to us and she was reassuring me that this wasn’t the last time we would talk, as we would someday see each other again.Thank-you Mitch for comforting my friend and me.