(Last year we featured an article on Ken Schoenberg, husband of artist Guitta Corey, who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and how friends rebuilt parts of their house to make his final days more comfortable. Schoenberg died on June 16. Corey has written to say that the experience has redirected her attention away from making art and asked that we pass along this letter of thanks to those who helped her husband.)
ALS: that was the diagnosis a year ago. Three letters that changed our lives and took my husband’s life. On a journey that seemed like it would never end, yet went by so fast, a journey that was costly in so many ways, we found that we were wealthy beyond measure in our friendships.
To the friends old and new who spent long, chilly days building wheelchair ramps and organizing fundraisers, we thank you. To the friends who sustained us with meals, thank you. To the friends who came daily to check on us, or help with wheelchair-to-bed transfers, your manner always compassionate and patient, we thank you.
Certainly to friends who came by to share a meal or a glass of wine, whose camaraderie and companionship helped my husband stay engaged and interested, I offer you a most heartfelt thank you.
To the friends who gave airline tickets and made it possible for his sons and brothers to visit him, and for me to have some respite, and to the friends who were always there to help with the “honey-do’s” around the house, somehow a simple “thank you” does not seem like enough.
The list goes on and on: Our snow was shoveled; our groceries were delivered; we were hugged, loved, and many of you cried with me, from the first moments after diagnosis to the present grief as we mourn his passing.
To the gentlemen who empty our garbage can each week, to people my husband and I have worked with for years, to friends and neighbors, old and new, I say you made our lives bearable this past year.
Time and again when I thanked you, the response I heard was, “It’s okay, it’s what friends do for each other.”
We were incredibly fortunate in our friendships to know so many people who live that sentiment. As the Beatles once sang, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
You have all sustained us with your love, freely offered, because thankfully, here in Alaska, that’s what friends do.
— Guitta Corey