Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Angels Near & Far

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, not the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think everyone from Alabama to Louisiana has heard about Ellen's Angels by now. It's amazing how much love and support I have received over the past couple of months. BUT tonight has taken Ellen's Angels clear across the globe - up north to Canada! That's right I now have Ellen's Canadian Angels! Let me tell you a story.....

Back in High School I was fortunate enough to have many different circles of friends. It was my Jr and Sr year that brought me close to Sabrina Lucetti. Sabrina and I were a hot mess together. We both wanted to be Madonna, we both loved music and to be the star of the show! Her sense of humor and smile always cheered me up. Sabrina was just one of those girls who made you have fun no matter what kind of mood you were in. When it came to her family, especially her Mother - her Italian blood ran thick and our love for our Mothers was something else we had in common.

We were usually the talk of the school when it came to hair styles, or should I say hair color. If she went bleach blonde, I went frosted. If she went frosted, I went black and so on. At some point I think I was green when she was blue but I'm not sure LOL... (I really was green at one point). We just always had a great time together and we always loved one another and never fought.

Well, Sabrina had her high school sweetheart Mark, and after graduation they got married. I ran into her once or twice and then they moved to Canada. We mailed each other (before Internet was common) a few times through the years and like most friendships, would lose touch and then a few years would pass and we'd connect again always as if we had talked the day before.

Well as we all know Katrina hit us pretty hard. me and my family had evacuated to Winnfield, LA. I could not reach anyone by phone. None of my friends or co-workers in MS or LA. NOT ONE! It was as if every number I had in my phone had been disconnected. I remember sitting outside of our hotel room, crying with my phone in my hand because I had just hung up with Penn Nat'l Gaming's corporate office - (they owned Casino Magic Bay St Louis). When I couldn't reach my co-workers I called the corporate HR office to see if they had heard from any of our employee's, but especially my HR Team. They told me that I was the first employee to call out of, I think we had over 1,100 at the time. I told them what the news was reporting was that the cities of Waveland and Bay St Louis were demolished and wiped away. It was a very emotional call to say the least. So as I sat there with my phone in hand, crying my eyes out like everyone else my phone rang. I don't even remember looking at who was calling - I was so shocked it actually was ringing that I immediately answered it. On the other end of the phone was SABRINA. She was hysterical and I could barely understand her. SHE was the first person to contact me after Katrina. She was in Canada and was watching it all unfold on the news. She had family in NOLA and knew they were safe, but she was so worried about me and my family. It was just so good to hear someones voice and especially someones voice that meant so much to me for so many years. After that call I believe we spoke at least every other day. After about 10 days at the hotel my parents found a condo to rent in Lafayette. Once we moved I must have given Sabrina my address, I don't really remember, but about a week or so after being in the condo I received a package. It was a BIG box - literally HUGE filled to the top with clothes for all of us. The kids, me, Wayne. It had blankets and sheets and books and so much stuff in it. All stuff that Sabrina had gotten donated after learning that we lost everything except what we had evacuated with which was 1 weeks clothes each (I thought we'd be home after the power was back on - duh) and 1 backpack of toys for each of the kids, and of course my pictures and few sentimental items. Sabrina was there for me and I have never forgotten how much that meant to me, to all of us. It was an incredible thing to have someone so generous in my life.

Mark contacted me in September and invited me to come to Canada to surprise Sabrina for her 40th birthday. When he contacted me he said that Sabrina told him there is no way he could ever surprise her and he racked his brain trying to think of the best surprise he could pull of. I wanted to go so badly, but knew I was undergoing all the tests and did not want to tell him what we suspected. Not until I knew for sure what it was. So I unfortunately had to turn down the invitation and that truly broke my heart. I wanted to go and see her so badly. I promised myself that once I knew what was wrong and was feeling well Wayne and I would plan a surprise trip - and fly to Canada and just up on their doorstep! Then I was diagnosed and knew that dream would be put on hold once again....

WELL - here we are 5 years or so later and I am at a point in my life where I have to face another challenge and again Sabrina being Sabrina, was one of the first of my friends to want to do something. It was hard on her being in Canada and not being here for me physically. Her Fb messages to me were ones of love and concern. She encouraged me to fight and be strong and reminded me that if I beat it once I could do it again. these words helped me in those first few days and I could tell from her writing she was very upset and concerned for me. BUT she was determined she was going to do SOMETHING. And then it came to her - why not do a 50/50 raffle. She had the tickets made and got her husband and friends to sell them.

Tonight I opened a package from Sabrina. The entire time I was trying to open it I was shaking. It was so strange, it was as if all the love that was sealed inside of it was bursting to get out! I finally opted for a scissors because I couldn't tear  through the tape on the envelope. The first thing I pulled out was a beautiful compact and a letter from Bri. I won't share the letter because it's between two girlfriends and I will cherish it forever. I hope she knows I will do as she asked and it will always be with me from here on out.

The next thing I opened was a Christmas card. The Card held a check and Sabrina wrote inside of it explaining where the check had come from. Sabrina began selling tickets to everyone she knew and had her husband hustling ticket sales as well. Some friends jumped in and helped and things were looking pretty good. It seems that while selling the tickets for the 50/50 raffle, some of her co-workers and friends chose to write my name on the tickets instead of their own which would increase my chances of actually winning all of the money rather than just receiving 50% of whatever was raised. A total of $925 was raised and my name was pulled from "the hat" from a ticket that was purchased by one of her co-workers. The check for $925 from my Canadian Angels was just an amazing sight to see. I cried the whole time I read the card out loud to Wayne. Then I read it again to myself. I handed Wayne the card and the check and he cried like a baby.

In her card Sabrina went on to tell me that she admired me. That my blog is an inspiration and has changed the way she looks at things and has made her a better person. I can't tell you how good those words made me feel. here I am writing a blog to help me through this journey and all awhile I am helping her. It's an amazing feeling to be blessed this way. Those of you who really know me will know that I don't take friendships lightly. My friends, my true friends are loved like family. Sabrina is one of those friends. We spoke on the phone tonight and I just couldn't find big enough words to thank her for all she has done. Her response was that she wished it could have been more! ARE YOU KIDDING! She has provided for me during two of the most tragic events in my life and has never turned her back on me. She has encouraged complete strangers that only know me as "her friend who needs help", to give money to me. She has made me feel that I have accomplished a great thing by inspiring at least 1 person with my words. She has given me more than I could ever give her in return. But she knows that I love her and cherish our friendship. No matter how many miles apart we are - our hearts beat in sync and for each other. She is my soul sister and I love her for everything she has done and for everything she will continue to do that is good, not just for me but for anyone who ever needs her, I know she will be there.

She plans on coming down South in the Spring and we will get to spend time together. One of my dreams is to one day go to Canada to visit her and allow me to meet some of the people who donated to me. That's going on my wish list and I know it will happen.

So as lucky as I am to have Ellen's Angels here at home - I know I have my Canadian Angels too and that makes me feel twice as blessed.

I love you Sabrina and Mark - and I will always love you!

SJM High School Dance Sabrina and Mark top left hand corner Me and Tony in the middle

Sabrina and I ran into each other about a year after graduation at a red light and pulled over and took this photo!
Sabrina and Mark

Sabrina's bleach blonde MADONNA hair and me dark :)

Senior retreat - the tree we hid behind smoking cigerette's
with Andrea and Amy - one of my favorite pics
After Katrina Sabrina and Mark visited - we were in the middle of rebuilding our home - first reunion in about 16 years

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