Good riddance to 2009! Sure there were some good things during the year but on the whole it was a really punk 12 months and not just for me, but for tons of folks who lost their jobs, lost their homes, and in some ways lost their faith.
2009 found me to be truly ranked among the poor for the first time in my life. Were it not for friends who literally floated funds to me, I expect I could be bedding down with Gordo in my PT Cruiser by now. So the ending of this miserable decade got me to reflecting, as many of us do at this time of year, of the Christmases past.
Working back I tried to remember Christmases and suddenly I realized that although I recall Christmas 2008, I cannot drag up any pictures of what Christmas 2007 was like. Now at that time I was in the full throttle of chemotherapy for breast cancer so perhaps the memory lapse is not unusual. Still, I pondered, not being able to bring up any visions of that year's Christmas was troubling. What else have I forgotten?
They say that it's not uncommon for chemo to affect memory. But I don't think I can blame my lapse on lethal chemistry. For the most part, except for doing what I can to help others going through that horror, I consciously try to forget that entire hellish year. In so doing I realized that I have done an injustice to many people who were there for me while battling cancer and now at my year-end reflections it is time to set things straight.
Thank you to everyone who helped with encouraging words, and to those who cooked, washed, cleaned, and fed the cat while I lay about in misery. Certainly thank you to those who put money in my account so I could pay my bills. And on that note I have to talk about some individuals who went above and beyond to raise money for me.
When I was first diagnosed, I wasn't so much worried that I would die, but I worried that I would be homeless because I was unable to work and had no recourse to funds from state disability since I was self employed. This fact is what drove me to swallow my pride and do something that is alien to me, ask for help.
I didn't have to say much to my good friend Michael Williams who immediately organized a fundraising barbecue at his place of business. Friends, staff from San Luis Sports Therapy, and the Morro Bay Rotary all attended and pitched in.
I really swallowed my pride a bit later on when I asked my special friend Steve See if he could stage a benefit concert for me. Steve is our local music promoter extraordinaire. I knew if anyone could manage to bring in the dollars, it was Steve, and I knew also that he wouldn't think to say no, because that's the kind of guy he is.
Steve is a cancer survivor himself so he knows the fear associated with that kind of diagnosis. And as I recalled the event he put on for me at the San Luis Obispo Odd Fellows Hall, I realized that it had taken place just after the holiday season of 2007. I remember everything about that night.
Steve had asked Western singer/songwriter Dave Stamey to perform for the benefit. Dave is also a friend of mine ever since I first met him to interview him for an article I wrote for San Luis Obispo Magazine. When I found out Dave had volunteered to perform for free so that all the money for the concert would go to me, I was overwhelmed. That night the people who follow the performances of Dave Stamey came out for the concert and Steve managed to raise enough money for me to live on for the next year.
Am I grateful? There are no words to express it. I sing out to my heroes, the unsung folks who helped put on the concert, ran the silent auction, and all those people I don't know who came and contributed. But most of all to Michael, Dave, and Steve.
Where does this bring me now? Well, I'm less afraid to ask for help if I need it. But I worry about those who are suffering and are afraid and are paralyzed, not knowing where to turn. But I know there are many in this community who would help, if they asked.
2010 has GOT to be better! Oh yes, we say that every year, but really, how much lower could we go? I think 2010 is the year for us to pull together and truly help our neighbor. Be aware of the invisible poor. Those people who appear on the surface to be okay, but who may be dealing with hunger, can't pay their bills, or are facing the loss of their homes. Take a good look around. There is someone YOU KNOW who needs your help, but isn't letting on. Start asking your neighbors and friends how they are doing. You may be surprised as to what you will find out. Help make 2010 a truly happy NEW year!