Last night 600 friends and family came together for a cause. The hope: To raise funds for a high school friend living with ALS, diagnosed in his 30’s, married, with three children. An e-mail invite went out in March to friends old and new. With no other promotion, or social media buzz, the event was sold out, with a waiting list to boot. Last night I saw people I had not seen in 20 years. Last night a community came together. The way friends greeted each other, the hugs that lingered as reunion hugs do, you could not help but notice the energy in the room. There was an electricity in the air, and a soul to the evening. A party with a purpose.
Listening to our friend, his wife, and brother who mc’ed the evening, and seeing their family and closest friends, weaving laughter and joy into what might otherwise be a solemn conversation, was evidence of the resilience of the human spirit. Life is made up of it all- the good, the bad, and the ugly. The lows and the highs, and the challenges we face are but part of the road we each travel. Somehow the harder parts put into laser focus what is most essential. Magnifying what matters, and sustaining us in those darker moments. A life turned on its head, hard not to be struck by the family’s positive attitude, and their grace. To be able to talk, and laugh, and engage… My hope is that for a moment, their burden felt a little less weighty. That maybe, just maybe, the isolation of a diagnosis and a disease was overthrown by the joining of so many hearts.
Last night was not a sad event. It was a celebration. A celebration of a life so precious, and so important to all of the lives it’s connected to. A celebration of a community that did not need to be sold on showing up for a friend and his loved ones. A reminder to live in the moment. A lesson worth repeating that happiness is not a destination, but rather found in ordinary moments along the way. It is not tied to the meeting of personal or professional goals. It is not found in things, in success, or in status. It is found in connection. It is found in the people who stand by your side when it counts. It is found in the comfort that only our loved ones can bring. It is seen in our children’s eyes, and our spouses smile. It is felt in our parents’ pride, and in their love. It is experienced in reuniting with friends, and in sharing a laugh. It was found last night in the coming together of a community, for a party with a purpose, and an evening with a soul.
Thank you to Dean, Paula and P.J, and the rest of the family for reminding us all of what really matters.