Eleven years ago, I was working at a Christian TV station in NW Ohio. The station manager and his wife worked there with me along with the production guy and a few guys who ran the actual programming. Kyle & Michelle were good friends. Still are. While we were working together, they had a lovely baby girl – Allie. Then they up and moved back to Illinois. We’ve stayed in touch through the years – though facebook has made it quite a bit easier.
A little more than a month ago, I got word that Michelle (who had been sick for ages) was in the hospital and in her final days. We knew it was coming – her body was failing, but it was still a shock when it came. The letter below (which I hope you’ll share) is from Kyle to Ellen DeGeneres in an effort to get one of Allie’s young dreams to come true. C’mon, give us a hand.
I hope that somehow, someway, my letter finds its way to you. I’ve always been a fan, dating all the way back to when I first saw you on an HBO special called “Women of the Night” from the mid-80’s (Where the heck is Judy Tenuta now, anyway?).
My name is Kyle, and I was married for 13 years to my wife Michelle until she passed away last month. She had a host of issues (severe diabetes, kidney failure, heart problems…etc.), and after fighting for 7 years, her body just couldn’t take any more. We have a daughter, Allie, who is now 11. She is the reason I write to you today.
As I mentioned already, Michelle had been fighting these health issues for years. In fact, since 2006, she had spent over 100 days in the hospital. Ever since Allie could remember, her Mom had always been in and out of the hospital. It was routine. All she really knew when she was younger was that every once in a while, Mom would be in the hospital for a few days, maybe a week or more, and during that time, she and I would chill out at home (and eat most of our meals out. Ok, all our meals.). But, Mom would always come home.
As Allie got older, she started to really understand the severity of Michelle’s condition. That being said, routine was just that…routine. Mom goes to the hospital, eventually she comes home. Rinse and repeat. So, it certainly wasn’t out of the ordinary when Michelle went in to the hospital in early April. She had been there for 15 days this time, only this time, things weren’t routine. She passed away on April 22nd. This time, I had to tell Allie that Mom wasn’t coming home.
I’ve told everyone else that Allie and I were as ready as you could possibly be to lose her…without really being ready. The last 4 weeks have been an adjustment for both of us. I never thought I’d be a single parent at this stage of my life, but sometimes you just don’t know. I find myself leaning on her nearly as much as she leans on me. She really is an amazing kid, and I couldn’t be luckier.
Allie is an only child, and we never talked down to her. She’s always been a voracious reader, she’s a straight ‘A’ student, and is constantly helping her teachers with those who aren’t as quick to “get” that day’s lesson. She’s also incredibly sarcastic, and has an unhealthy obsession with Betty White, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
So, time marches on, and last week, we were on a little weekend getaway to Springfield, Missouri. On our way home, we were just outside of St. Louis, and Allie asked if she could change the radio station. I said yes, and immediately after she switched it, we both heard the DJ say “We’re looking for Caller 12”. Having no idea what the prize even was, I of course started dialing, because that’s what you do when someone says they’re looking for Caller 12. As an aside, I really believe that on the radio, you could say “We’re going to shove Caller 7 off the Golden Gate Bridge”, and not only would people call, but caller 6 would be pissed he lost. Just a theory, I digress. So imagine my surprise, when the DJ picks up and says “Caller 12, who’s this?”. Remember, at this point, we have no clue what we’ve even won. A few short moments later, we find that our massive stroke of good fortune has netted us a digital download of Rod Stewart’s latest album! No disrespect intended to Mr. Stewart, but Allie and I were already sipping non-alcoholic drinks on our imaginary trip to Jamaica. However, the DJ also informed us that in addition to the CD, we were also entered into the Grand Prize drawing for a trip for 2 to Beverly Hills to have dinner with Rod himself. We were speaking on my vehicle’s Bluetooth, so as soon as Allie heard this, she went nuts. In her mind, we’d already won.
I suppose I should backtrack just a bit. In the weeks that followed Michelle’s passing, Allie had been talking almost non-stop about going places. She loves to travel, but she knew over the last few years that her Mom just couldn’t go. Michelle was on full time kidney dialysis and had to be hooked up to her dialysis machine for 10 hours each day. It made travel quite cumbersome, and long travel was next to impossible. I’ll give Allie credit, though…rather than whine and cry about it, she kept it to herself, knowing that Michelle would only feel guilty/self conscious about Allie missing out.
Back to our little contest. Since a substantial amount of any parent’s job is crushing their children’s dreams (Allie’s sarcasm is genetic, I suppose), I immediately had to tell Allie that the trip to California was likely a nationwide contest, and that there were going to be a multitude of people that qualified, and that there was no way we were ever going to win. I even got the DJ, who was still on the line, to confirm all of this. He said people were qualifying for the trip all across the U.S., and that the odds were, in fact, quite long. So, we hung up, I looked my daughter square in the eye, and said “Honey, someday I will take you to California. I promise. But, it’s not going to be because of this contest, and we sure as heck aren’t going there to meet Rod Stewart”. It turns out I’m a liar.
Of course, the next day, my phone rings, and I find that we’ve beaten the odds, and somehow, we won the trip. Needless to say, when Allie found out, she was ecstatic (about California, not Rod Stewart. Again, sorry Rod. She’s 11.). Our trip is scheduled for early August, and she can’t wait. I’m hoping, however, that you can help my little girl’s dream come true.
I mentioned earlier that Allie was infatuated with Betty White. I really can’t tell you when it even started, but for years, she’s been acquiring all sorts of Betty memorabilia. She has Golden Girls DVD box sets, an autographed copy of Betty’s autobiography, multiple autographed pictures…I could go on, but I don’t want to scare Betty if all of this pans out. The point is, Allie thinks we’re going to California to see Rod Stewart…but I’m trying to work some kind of miracle to get her to see Betty White.
There’s some part of me that feels that Allie has been forced to grow up much faster than a kid should. I’m eternally grateful that she’s turned out as amazing as she has, but I’d love to somehow figure out a way for her to get her dream trip. God knows she deserves it. I know that if anyone can make this dream happen, it’s you, Ellen.
I know it’s asking a lot, but I also know that this is exactly the kind of story I see on your show all the time. If there is ANYTHING you can do to help make this dream of my daughter’s come true, you have no idea how thankful I’d be. Words can’t describe what she means to me, and I sincerely hope to introduce the two of you soon.