By Peter Mueller
I wasn’t planning to present for CoverMyQuest. I’d recently returned from a trip to Japan (where my fiancée and I got engaged), and the only “quest” I could think of pitching at that point was paying for a wedding. That didn’t seem like the kind of thing I’d want to put in front of a panel of judges and colleagues, so I changed direction.
For some background, I met one of my best friends (now step-brother) in the 6th grade, and we introduced his father to my mother shortly after. They were married soon after and I grew close to him over the years.
Gale, Peter’s stepfather
Fast forward to Halloween 2015, when Gale ended in the hospital. My last visit with him would be shortly before Thanksgiving. I was bringing books, DVDs and a laptop for him to watch them on. My mother had gone to find something, and my stepfather and I got to talking; about my siblings, and my then-girlfriend-now-fiancée, how work was going, plans for Thanksgiving, the terrible food and mind-numbing daytime shows at the hospital, and how scared he was.
A couple days later on Thanksgiving, some unfortunate medical mistakes led to him needing to be put into a medically-induced coma, and intubated. He died a couple of weeks later due to complications from COPD (side note: NEVER smoke).
I was thinking about Gale the day before the submission deadline for CoverMyQuest, which was also the last day for a colleague, Kaleb. He was a co-op with CoverMyMeds who was returning to school to complete his degree. Kaleb’s mother has an inoperable form of brain cancer. He wanted to try and save up to take his family on a fun trip where they could all relax and enjoy each other’s company. He was able to save some, but if he had tried to save for the entire trip on his own it would have delayed his graduation which he wants her to be able to see.
Kaleb and his mother in Puerto Rico
Kaleb told us about his Quest that night, a little dejected he wouldn’t be able to present it. A couple days passed, and I asked the Quest-runners if people were allowed to present on others’ behalf, and asked Kaleb if he would be okay with me presenting his Quest for him. Both said yes, and Kaleb sent me a copy of his presentation.
It was an extremely painful presentation.
My stepfather was a family attorney, and a member of the Charity Newsies (a local charity that buys wardrobes and school supplies for kids in need). We liked to call him Atticus Finch because some clients paid in produce when they couldn’t pay him in cash, while others paid in baked goods and thanks when they couldn’t pay at all.
It goes without saying that when you lose someone, there are almost always some regrets. Things left unsaid, hugs not given, ‘I love you’s forgotten. It’s not often you get a chance to do something you feel your loved one would be truly proud of. It doesn’t erase those regrets, but it does help you live with them and not let them overpower your good memories with those people.
Kaleb was able to take his mom and family on that trip (they went to Puerto Rico), and the pictures look amazing. I’m really glad I got to help make this trip a reality while also honoring my stepfather’s memory.