When I was asked if I wanted to nominate my older brother, Michael Coughlin, for the Stevie Patrick Legacy of love Award, I was very honored …my only concern was if I had enough room to write ALL the reasons, I feel my brother deserves this Honor! As we say in our family, “Michael, they broke the mold when you were born…you are like no other!”.
Michael and Rebecca met in a class in college. On the very last day of their very last class in college, Mike, FINALLY got the nerve up to ask Rebecca out. Her classic response was “you have my number” ….and like they say it…That was the beginning to a beautiful life together that lasted 43 years. As being a younger sister, I watched them as a married couple throughout decades of being together. I was truly amazed at the RESPECT that they had for one another. Even in heat of anger, they made a pack to never hit below the belt or swear at each other! One of my most endearing memories of them is when Mike would introduce Rebecca as his “BRIDE” …even after decades of marriage…SPECIAL! The list goes on…I knew long ago that this marriage would last through the test of times…and it DID!
In November 2018, all our lives changed forever! Rebecca didn’t feel right so she went to her dr. where she was told she had Glioblastoma…a brain tumor and had 8-10 months to live without treatment. Obviously, life changing from this point forward and very traumatic for both. As a family, we were all together to help them during this journey…but we knew who was in charge…Michael was FOCUSED on Rebecca ONLY…everything else was secondary. Rebecca did EVERYTHING to fight this beast …Mike was in charge. He now was a leader. From the first day we were able to talk after her diagnosis, Mike and Rebecca were ready to take this on with Faith, optimism, and HARD WORK.
From Rebecca’s first brain surgery, I’ll never forget, which set the tone for all her future care, Mike NEVER LEFT HER SIDE!!!!! Literally, we would have to beg him to go home and shower. He slept in EVERY hospital room, ER waiting rooms, lobbies of Dr. offices…the appointments were very frequent, and the decision making was life altering. So, they made the decision together and Mike retired from his job after 30+ years so he could focus on his “Bunny”.
Rebecca continued to fight, and she did Optune treatment and then had another brain surgery and was fortunate enough to be part of a trial program. Even though this Glioblastoma is HORRIBLE…One of the BEST things my brother did for Rebecca was: He was her BIGGEST CHEERLEADER…an encourager !! No matter what was going on internally, he cheered Rebecca through every scary needle poke, which she was terrified of. And encouragement for his love when she was wheeled into the operation rooms! They had their McDonalds date nights as they ordered and sat in the car and watched the sunset…because it was hard for her to walk at that point. It is known that the positive reinforcement and “We are going to beat this” attitude helps patients live longer…. It’s a fact!
Thankfully between all of that, Rebecca had a period of remission, and they were very Blessed to be able to do some traveling together to reconnect and try to relax. During ALL this time, Rebecca had tremendous Faith in God and as she strived to do her best, but the beast resurfaced, and another tumor appeared, and this was inoperable. In December of 2019, Rebecca decided she was ready for home hospice. It just was too hard anymore and she was tired. Again, as the disease progressed, Mike still was her cheerleader as she used a walker to get to the bathroom or took her pills..which became challenging. He moved his bed downstairs to sleep next to her hospital bed. Remember this was during Covid-19…therefore the STRESS Michael was under to keep it away from the house and Rebecca…he had to make tough decisions on visitations of friends and family starting in 2020. That was very stressful for him because people wanted to visit but she couldn’t risk getting it.
Once Rebecca was bed bound, couldn’t walk and things were ALL on Mike’s shoulders, our sister Kathleen came and lived with them for about 2 months during Covid until Rebecca’s passing…we are all grateful for Kathleen’s endless help during that time. I was with them, helping when I could and witnessed the care that was needed during that time. Mike did EVERYTHING…we assisted… BIGGEST quality I know he gave Rebecca was his undoubting PATIENCE. I saw the stress, sadness, fear, lost on Mike’s face but Rebecca NEVER WITNESSED any of that! INCREDIBLE in my book! All she heard and saw was LOVE! Always told her she was doing a ‘GREAT JOB” helping us help her. Never made her feel more embarrassed than she was at times…Always told her how beautiful she was and how much he LOVED her!!! The dignity and endless respect he gave Rebecca to her last breath…She was worshipped, respected, LOVED, from her husband. She knew she was Michael’s “Bride” forever.
We lost our Rebecca on April 8th, 2020. My brother wants to continue Rebecca’s life and legacy and he has done that. He helps people with Henry Ford Hospital with coming up with new tips and suggestions that they, as a hospital, can implement future brochures for Glioblastoma’s patients. Mike enjoys visiting Rebecca’s Memorial Garden that was named in her honor after 38 years working at the Canton Public Library. Rebecca was a REMARKABLE woman who we miss her beyond words…but my brother lost the LOVE OF HIS WORLD. I am so proud to call you my brother Mike. You are focused on healing yourself while STILL HELPING others! I love how you write, “Love, Mike & Rebecca” …to this day on greeting cards. Mike looks for bunny rabbits every day and if he sees one, he knows his Rebecca a.k.a. Bunny Rabbit” saying HI!
I will end this with saying, I was fortunate enough to watch firsthand what CAREGIVING entails…It is NOT for the faint of heart…it takes GUTS! I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone, and I have PROFOUND RESPECT to all those that care for your loved ones until they enter God’s Kingdom. If you were a witness to Mike and Rebecca’s love story, you can understand why my brother, Mike Coughlin, would be nominated. I, also pray for all the survivors of Glioblastoma and those who have passed. Everyone deserves the love Mike and Rebecca had forever. Mike is moving forward and healing with Bunny by his side forever!
ALL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS XO