As far as I can remember, it started with a square of dark chocolate.
I first met Maren and Jamie Showkeir at a Berrett-Koehler event in San Francisco during the summer of 2013. In a room where many of the people had long-lasting friendships and collegial relationships, I felt like (and was!) a newbie.
But the Showkeirs, among others, welcomed me warmly. (Maren welcomed me by sharing a square of dark chocolate.)
We bonded instantly. Jamie is a graduate of Miami (OH) University, also my alma mater.
As a couple, Jamie and Maren exude warmth, openness, and genuine affection for and interest in others. Their commitment and love for each other is immediately evident. They interact with ease, respect, and grace.
We ate dinner with a group of common friends outdoors one night, laughing and sharing. I picture the two of them walking away at evening’s end, Jamie’s arm draped over Maren’s shoulder, bracing her against the chill.
After the event, I had the pleasure of working with the Showkeirs on social media strategy. We met over Skype, with Jamie and Maren on camera from their home in Phoenix, their cat wandering on and off camera. Those meetings, too, filled with laughter — in my memory, those calls are studded with sun, warmth, and true enjoyment and pleasure in working with dear friends.
Shock and deep sadness filled me when I received an email from Jamie about a year after our first meeting with the news that he had received a confirmed diagnosis of ALS. Even in that message, Jamie communicated with clarity and grace. He wrote “our life has become intensely focused, and we are determined to live with joy every day, stay present to each other, and to deal with the things we must deal with as they come in the best way that we can.”
And he wrote “Even though we haven’t known each other all that long, knowing you, working with you and having you in my life is a gift and I am grateful. You are delightful to be with and your competence is exceptional. Thanks for being a part of our journey.” Even in the midst of his most profound challenge, he took the time to lift me up.
Jamie and Maren have been a gift to me since that first meeting. It is an extreme honor to know and interact with them.
In these difficult days, as Jamie’s physical condition worsens, I am grateful for the opportunity to join with others in supporting Jamie and Maren on their journey.
We started the campaign to ease the journey for the Showkeirs by providing needed finances.
What we’ve seen, in just two days, is that this campaign is providing so much more than that; every gift is evidence of the love and care Maren and Jamie have poured into others. Each gift represents how very deeply this community loves and cares for them.
We are grateful to be able to do something to demonstrate our concern, to show Jamie and Maren that they are not alone. We are standing with them, and though miles may separate us, they are in our hearts.
Whether you know Jamie and Maren personally or not, I invite you to be a part of the supportive community we are creating by giving to this effort (click here to visit the site). Scroll through the notes of encouragement friends have shared on our Go Fund Me page for a taste of the sweetness the Showkeirs have brought to the world.
As I write this, we are close to 75% of reaching our goal of $60,000. Every $20 increment pays for an hour of care.
Our “Featured on Friday” posts always feature someone special, but today is a bit of a departure. I am sure once you read through the comments on Jamie’s site, you will see why this was simply the only choice.
Today’s choice reciprocates the good will and generosity that began with the simple sweetness of a square of chocolate.