UPDATE: This campaign for the Sullivan familiy of Franklin Square, Long Island was launched in the summer of 2016, as my best friend Mary Anne endured a 3-month hospitalization that took a sledgehammer to their family's financial stability. Thanks to her incredible courage and fighting spirit, her family's boundless devotion and sacrifice, and the dedication of her medical care team, she stayed with us longer than I could have hoped--more than another whole year. Another Thanksgiving, another Christmas, another Easter.
But Mary Anne's indomitable heart finally gave out on October 5, 2017. She was simply irreplaceable; as someone said of her at her funeral this week, "a light has gone out."
Her family and I would like to thank, again, all of you who helped in any way towards this campaign, which gave them critical help when they needed it, and that includes those who sent us love and prayers. I will leave this fundraiser up until Christmas time as a way for anyone who wishes to do so to offer further support to Mary Anne's husband and daughter in this terribly difficult time.
I will leave you with the beautiful words of Mary Anne and Patrick's daughter Claire at her funeral:
She loved more fiercely than any other person I've ever met. Her friends meant everything to her, and I often heard her refer to them as her "family of intent." She was a devoted aunt who gifted her nieces and nephews with her affection, time, and uncensored advice...Her love for me and for Dad is the closest thing I have ever seen to God's love for all of us....I think, though, that Mom's most valuable quality was her unmatched courage.
Rest in peace, dear friend.
Sometimes the “givers” in this world—who always help others, and never ask for anything—need help themselves. And they need someone else to do the asking.
That’s why I’m launching this fundraiser for my best friend forever, Mary Anne, and her dear husband Patrick. Mary Anne is battling recurrent endometrial cancer, which has left her weakened, in pain, and facing extended disability. Pat needs desperately to take time off from work to be with her and care for her. But cancer has devastated their finances.
The members of this family literally spend their lives helping others. Mary Anne gave up a career in TV production years ago to teach Catholic school. In recent years, she has worked at a Catholic senior center, tirelessly supporting frail and lonely elderly people, placing a loving hand on their shoulders. “Sometimes,” she says, “it’s the only touch they get all day.” Patrick, a psychiatric social worker, ministers to those in fragile emotional health for long hours and late nights—with no paid sick leave or family leave. Their lovely daughter teaches Head Start preschool after graduating with honors on a merit scholarship. All three, by the way, are beautiful singers, and have raised their voices with various groups in the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Center.
Over the past two years, Mary Anne has bravely borne painful surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, with repeated hospitalizations. Now, mounting co-payments and bills, and so much lost income, have burdened this family's already-difficult journey with acute financial distress.
Your generous help for this family of “givers” is needed right now, and badly. With their consent, I am acting as steward of this campaign. (Mary Anne and I have been best friends for 40 years, since high school at the Mary Louis Academy.) If you and I are not yet acquainted, it's easy to confirm my identity on the web, as a longtime blogger (“Prospect: A Year in the Park”) and parishioner at the Oratory Church of St. Boniface in downtown Brooklyn. The money raised on this site will go directly into easing the Sullivans' fiscal crisis at this critical hour.
Thank you so much. And may the promise of Psalm 23 be yours, and theirs: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”