Chapter Twenty One: Receiving
One of the best parts of being home was the accessibility we had to our friends. We only allowed a few friends to visit us at the hospital after Steve left ICU because Steve rarely felt well enough to see anyone, so we kept contact to a minimum. Now that we were home and Steve was feeling a lot better, it was time to see all those loving friends who had prayed for him and supported us during his most critical time.
Friends began to bring us food, all kinds of wonderful summer food. We received bags full of peaches, apricots, and apples from our friends’ trees. I made ice cream, crumbles, and pies with them. They also brought dinner or came to our house and made dinner for us. They would go to the store for us, one little chore I didn’t have the time to do with Steve’s constant care. There was a continuous stream of people at our door showering us with food, hugs, and the willingness to assist us in any way they could.
When we left the hospital, money was very tight. Our daughter, Nicole, had set up a funding website for donations while we were in the hospital so we could pay our bills. Many people donated during that time, which helped us pay the bills that were growing larger and larger, but as time wore on the donations began to trickle in. We were both unemployed. Steve had done computer work for many years prior to his hospitalization, but now that was an impossibility. His fingers and brain could not function well enough to even fathom doing that for a long while. I was now his full time care giver, so I was employed, but without pay. Knowing our circumstances, several very good friends decided to create a benefit for us. It was going to be a night of music and food at an outdoor facility in Oak Creek Canyon. It was planned for mid July, a perfect time for being outdoors to dance under the stars.
Phone calls were made and without hesitation musicians and artists quickly began to donate their time and talent to our event. Many of them were our friends, but there were also many whom we had never met, but wanted to help. Our town had been following Steve’s story, so there were a lot of people who were inspired by the MIracle Man’s recovery and they wanted to be a part of celebrating his life.
I usually give the big parties, but this time I wasn’t involved in any of the preparations. Our friends worked countless hours putting it in place. Artists donated their art pieces for an auction and musicians created the lineup for their performances. Word about the event spread quickly, and tickets sold out within an hour of being announced. We were expecting one hundred people. That was the capacity for the outdoor, creekside property where the benefit was being held, but the night of the party we had a little more than one hundred show up hoping to get tickets at the door. Unfortunately, some had to be turned away because of being over capacity, but it showed us how many people loved and wanted to support Steve.
It was July 14th; A beautiful, calm summer night, just right for a big outdoor party. Our friend, Anne, made all of the food. We had table after table laden with salads, appetizers, main courses, and incredible desserts. She had worked for days getting the beautifully prepared food ready. Being a baker myself, I knew what kind of hard work went into it and I was deeply touched by all of her extraordinary efforts. Musician friends of ours were setting up on the small stage to share their songs with us, and the artwork from various galleries and local artists was being arranged in one of the big pavilions for the auction later that night. It would be a spectacular night.
People began to arrive and as each one saw Steve, sitting in his wheelchair waiting for them, they would stop in total awe of him and give him a long and loving hug. People who had never met him needed and wanted to hug him. It became a common theme that night; people needing and wanting to touch Steve and hear his miraculous story. This was so healing for Steve; to feel the touch of so many adoring people and to tell his story of how well he was doing and that he was so glad to be alive. This scene played out throughout the night as people waited their turn to sit by Steve and feel his presence. Often, I would walk away and watch from a distance as my miracle man received the love he so deserved to receive. I wanted to drink it all in, all the love, the kindness, the hope. I wanted to capture as much of its magic as I could.
Our daughter and grandson sold drinks to thirsty party goers. Our son and son in law moved chairs and did the heavy lifting of tables that needed to be put into place. My mother in law and sister in law, along with several close friends ran the silent auction, and other close friends entertained us with their songs and comedy acts. The beauty of living in an art community is having so many talented people as friends, and talent was certainly what we experienced that night!
The night ended too soon for us. We could have stayed all night listening to the beautiful music, eating the fabulous food, and hugging as many people as we could get our arms around, but midnight was approaching and Steve was becoming very tired. One final song was sang by our good friend Chris. It was his remarkable song, “Walk With Me”. As Steve sat in his wheelchair, Chris left the stage singing “walk with me” with his arm outstretched while walking down the isle toward Steve. I have loved this song for twenty five years, before I met Steve or Chris. I could never have fathomed all those years ago when I first fell in love with this song that I would see Chris perform it for my husband as he sat in a wheelchair after fighting for his life. I was completely overcome with the destiny of that moment. The two embraced as Chris sang the final note. Tears flowed for all of us. Chris’ beautiful song had captured the night in all of its abundant glory.
The auction was complete, the food had been hungrily devoured, and everyone felt a deep sense of peace. The evening of celebration gave us enough money to make life easier for a few more months. We were so very, very grateful.
The abundant flow continued after the benefit. People were constantly calling wanting to bring us money, food, or give us healing body work. We accepted each loving offer.
Steve and I are givers. It’s always been such a comfortable role for us. We have generous spirits and want to help others when help is needed, so to be on the receiving end of the giving was wonderful, but also very vulnerable. We appreciated the outpouring of love; deeply, deeply appreciated it. And, we also felt the need to give back to those who gave to us. I think this is an automatic reaction for many people. Giving is full of action and most of us like to take action. We like knowing we can do something about a stressful situation, so it’s natural to want to give. Receiving is more passive. You have to surrender to the process of not being in charge of what is happening. Everything is by chance, not planned. It’s a very submissive place to be, but it’s also a soft, open, full of possibilities place to be.
This new, soft, open place felt overwhelming in the beginning. There was so much coming into our world so quickly, so abundantly, so lovingly, that we needed time to digest it all, to embrace each act of kindness and feel the full appreciation for it before taking another big bite of abundance. I had never known that kind of receiving before. It felt very raw and exposed, which is exactly what needed to happen for our hearts to stretch wide enough to take it all in. So, they did. Stretching our hearts enough to embrace all the love our community was giving us became our daily practice.
We were learning how to live a much more abundant life. Receiving an enormous amount of love, so much love that we thought our hearts would explode, was our new teacher.