Check out the coveravge of last night's service in Raleigh at :

There are some nasty comments connected to the article, but I didn't feel compelled to answer them because they are from people I don't think would listen anyway.

We had a beautiful memorial service tonight in Raleigh for the people who have died, and several stories from people who are struggling to survive in our broken system. One woman had her Medicaid canceled because she did some work from home and made $900 in four months.  She has renal failure and is on dialysis. She can't work full-time and she is deep in debt because she has to pay for 20 percent of all her bills. She and her husband have lost their home already. She is afraid she will lose her life. She has worked all her life, but she is treated as though she is worthless.

Steve Taylor of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church spoke about his parents losing the family home his great-grandparents built because his father, a non-union blue-collar worker, committed the sin of getting sick. His mother also got sick, which happens to most of us as we age. They refinanced the house to keep their heads above water, but then the economy tanked and they couldn't keep up the mortgae payments.

Then h talked about his friend, Wade, who sounded a lot like Mike -- a recovering addict who devoted his life to helping other people get and stay sober.

But Wade couldn't get treatment for chronic depression. Like any chronic illness, depression can be managed with treatment. But without treatment, depression gets worse, and Wade's did; it finally took his life.

Treating depression is pretty simple; it is one of the most treatable of all chronic illnesses. With medication and therapy, more than 80 percent of people with depression live perfectly normal lives. Without treatment, depression just keeps getting worse.

As I always do when I tell Mike's story, I showed his picture -- the one Janet took seven months before he died. It puts a face on the problem. He looks so handsome in that picture. It's the way I want to remember him -- happy, serene and with more than a bit of mischief in his eyes.

This is the post card I sent to Kay Hagen
I got a mailer from Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of North Carolina today asking me to let Sen. Kay Hagan know how I feel about the public option. Of course, the mailer tried to convince me that BCBS could make the health care system better without government interference.

Apparently, they're spending millions on this marketing campaign. God knows they have the millions to spend.

My first impulse was to throw the thing away, but I looked the thing over and there was the postage-paid stamp on the front of the post card. I decided I might as well put it to good use.

Our memorial service tonight for the hundreds of thousands who have been lost to our broken heawas beautiful. Gary Kovach spoke about the injustice of denying care to the poor and homeless; Emma Clare Hoffman talked about worrying whether she'll ever be able to get insurance because she was treated for anxiety and depression.

Robbie Williams spoke about poor families and told the story of a single mother who can't afford even the least expensive insurance policy, so she lives in fear that she or one of her children might get sick.

Then Byron Ballard came up and talked about witches (she is a Pagan priestess) being the ones who acted as midwives, helping bring new life into being, and as midwives who helped people out of life at the end. She talked about how unjust it is that mothers are having to "midwife" their children out of this life because they couldn't get care in time to save them.

"The wealthy can afford the best care for their children, and if it isn't available here, they'll bring them to Durham or fly them to New York ... because the care is there if you can afford it."

I got a call a couple weeks ago from a man in California who wanted to use the image of my son in a video about health care reform.

Mike's is one of several faces in the video, which you can see at

Doug Drenkow has put names and faces to the issue. Nearly 45,000 people died last year because they didn't have insurance. Even more died because their insurance companies wouldn't pay for the treatment they needed to stay alive.

It's a powerful video. I watched it over again because I couldn't do anything but try and memorize the faces of these people. It happened the second time too.

Maybe it's because one of those faces belonged to my son, but I know how these families feel when they're left with nothing but memories and photos because our system focuses on money instead of human life.

Tonight, people of faith across the country will hold vigils, prayer or memorial services to commemorate these lives lost to greed. I will tell Mike's story and offer a prayer at my church.

And every 12 minutes, we will stop, chime a bell, light a candle and offer a moment of silence to honor another person who has lost a life to this system, and pray for the people left behind.

I urge you to watch Doug's video and look at the faces. These people aren't just numbers; they are real, and their loss is unspeakably tragic.

I picked up this painting this afternoon for the auction at Eat at Mike's. Peggy Taylor loves to paint scenes of the mountains. She has donated this painting to Life o' Mike for the auction.

We also have an original Jonas Gerard painting, beautiful pottery, jewelry, a night at the Grove Park Inn and more.

The Cherry Tree by Peggy Taylor is of a historic barn at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. It was built 200 years ago and has fallen down since the painting was done.

We had another letter-writing party this afternoon at the new Land of Sky United Church of Christ in east Asheville. It wasn't huge, but it was great. Land of Sky, as I said, is a new church and one centered on social justice issues.

One of the women writing letters is homeless. She waited three and a half years for knee surgery, partly because she had no place to recuperate. She's in rehab now as her knee heals, but it 12 days, she'll be released, and unless something happens soon, she'll be on the street again.

Most of the people who were there have health insurance, but one woman who doesn't told a funny story: She had a date with a man she absolutely didn't want to see again. When she was telling her mother about the date, her mother said, "But honey, he has health insurance!"

I remember when mothers used to say, "But honey, he'd be a good provider."

It's been a busy week. We're doing a letter-writing party at 4 p.m. Sunday at the new Land of Sky United Church of Christ, then we're taking part in a memorial service Tuesday evening to honor the people who have died because of our broken system.

We're calling the service, "In Loving Memory," and it will be broken into 12-minute segments so we can pause and chime, light a candle and have a moment of silence to memorialize the person who has died during that time.

I think that will illustrate the urgency in getting reforms in place. It also will help me remember I'm not alone; that every 12 minutes, another family has to deal with what mine deals with every day. That's what keeps me going; that and my promise to Mike that he wouldn't be forgotten.

We're still working on the fundraiser for Nov. 1. I bought six white pocket aprons and I'm going to have the Eat at Mike's logo put on them.

We have some more good auction items, including a night at the Grove Park Inn and some beautiful works of art, pottery and more. I'm getting really excited.

It's all keeping me really busy, though.


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Now I understand why most nonprofits have entire committees to organize fundraising events.

I can't sit still and relax for a minute without thinking of something else that needs to be done or someone who needs to be called. I was shopping yesterday and realized we have to get a bunch of steam tables for the food or it won't stay hot. I need to look into renting those.

Since we're a new nonprofit, we don't have a big list of contributors yet, but we're working on it. I never realized how easy it is to ask for money -- or how hard it is to get it!

But Asheville is a great, giving place and I know we're going to get Life o' Mike's programs up and running.