Shortly after college, I lost someone I cared about a lot, someone who most people didn’t even know there was as deep a friendship with as I had. His name was Michael, and we met at a small community church when I was ten years old. Our friendship didn’t develop until I was 17, mainly because he was several years older than me and his family left the church we were a part of when I was about 13.
We reconnected at a Christian Camp we were both working at, and our friendship formed while he was dating a girl I had become friends with there. Although he moved to Scotland to work at that camp’s sister camp for a while, we stayed in touch, first through MSN and later, once Facebook became a thing, through Facebook.
When I left for college, I ended up very much alone. I moved to Toronto with few friends around at that time, and all my Christian connections from back home had moved on with their own lives, and I was not a part of them. I struggled a lot in college, and the few remaining Christian friends I had wanted nothing to do with me for my ‘heathen’ actions.
During my final year of college, when I was in the worst shape I had ever been and my faith was faltering, he was there for me. He would encourage, he would tell me how great he thought I was, and he would remind me often that even some of God’s favourite people went through periods in the wilderness where they wandered far away from Him. He never judged me, not once, even knowing some of the deeper, darker secrets I hadn’t shared with anyone else. When I moved back home, we met up for coffee a few times and still spent a lot of time talking alone. Things started to get awkward from my end, as I started to become worried he was beginning to like me. There were no major indications, just little things he would say that he never used to say before. I panicked, and not sure how to handle it, cancelled our next coffee. I wanted time to think, figure out how to respond if things went that way.
Mike died that week, before I had the chance to see him again. He had been dealing with seizures his whole life, and while home alone, he had a series of seizures that killed him. I remember the moment I found out – I can’t remember how I found out, whether it was his mom who sent me an email or someone else. I had avoided his messages earlier that day on MSN because I wasn’t sure what to say. And then he was gone.
I haven’t ever talked about it much, and before today, I don’t think I ever actually shared this.
A few years ago, I found out that one of my best friends, a woman that I joke has become my daily Red Bull because of the way she inspires me, pushes me forward and supports my dreams, is epileptic. Her seizures weren’t that frequent, and the medication she was on was helping, so it wasn’t something I fully allowed myself to deal with or face. Shortly after returning from my honeymoon last year, she disappeared for a few days. She lives in Connecticut, so our way of ‘seeing’ each other is our constant barrage of Facebook messages, Facebook posts, texts and emails. It was unusual for her to not tell me she wouldn’t be around, and I began to worry. A few days later, she emailed me letting me know she had some seizures and was in the hospital. She was OK, but they wanted to monitor her.
In the moment I read that email, I shattered. I was forced to deal with emotions I had buried from Mike’s death, but also the reality that this was a constant and continuing battle for my best friend. One that she needed my support and my encouragement for.
That’s why, just over a month ago, I encouraged her to sign up for the Epilepsy Foundation’s National Walk in Washington, DC in April. She had been toying with the idea, as part of the work she has started doing to raise awareness and spread hope to others facing Epilepsy. She asked Scott and I, and another friend to join her. There was no need to think about it, we were there immediately.
The cost is a lot more than we can afford to get down, but we are determined to get there, and to raise enough money to make a decent donation, both to the Epilepsy Foundation and to Epilepsy Canada. But we need help.
This week, we officially launched our GoFundMe campaign to help us get to Washington and support my best friend, but also, to walk in memory of Mike, and for everyone else who battles any form of Epilepsy. If this is something that is laid on your heart, please consider donating for this. Even something as small as $5 will help.
Donations can be made at our GoFundMe campaign page. Help us to Walk it Off, all the way to Washington, to help raise awareness and fund research for Epilepsy.