For the past five years, Out of the Blue — the singing group I’m a part of at Oxford — has raised money for Helen and Douglas House, a local charity and the world’s first hospice for children with life-shortening illnesses. Last weekend, we had the chance to visit both houses and sing a few songs for their current guests, an experience I won’t soon forget.
Their annual fundraising concert at Oxford’s New Theatre is coming up on February 27-29, and Out of the Blue will be performing then as well! You can look up tickets here, if you’re around and want to stop by.
I’ve only suffered through one major tragedy in my life: the loss of a close friend due to a sudden accident just weeks before the day of our university graduation. Some days, I’m grateful that I’ve only had to experience something like that once, but most days, I still ask myself the same, eternal questions: Why Michele? Why then? Why ever? I didn’t realize it at the time, but what helped me the most in coping through it was the community of friends that banded together to support one another: everyday, we would sit together in someone’s living room, eating, listening to music, doing homework or just being together in one another’s presence. That space and sense of community was something precious and invaluable – and that’s exactly what Helen and Douglas House creates and celebrates. It is a place of being together, of mutual support and love expressed in ways explicit and inexplicit: a silent embrace, a gentle cuddle, a smile or a home-cooked meal alongside new and old friends.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over my twenty-two years of life, it’s that we all depend on those around us for the warmth of affirmation and encouragement to get through the trials of life. Continue reading