A Very Personal, Touching Story


Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do. That’s  the reason I still do it. For a long time, I wrote here and wondered if anybody would ever read what I’d written. Now that you’re here, I couldn’t be more grateful or happier to have this community, this family. I really do love you guys. I choose to share my life with you and I love to do so. Sometimes though, I struggle with how much is too much, what is too personal and what things I should and should not share on this platform. I want to be completely open with you all but I also use this platform as a place of positivity and when things go south in my life, I often keep it off this platform. Not because I want to make my life seem perfect because it is surely not and nobodies life is. But because I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining. I don’t want to seek attention on negative aspects of life. I’d rather share good things with you. But as we all know, not everything in life is rainbows and unicorns. As of now, I am making the decision to keep it 100% real. The good, the bad and the ugly. It's important to me to share it all with you so that you can know the full me.

Over memorial day weekend my family had a little bump in the road. Everything now is ok, but this bump brought a story of good people and human kindness and it was something I really wanted to share with you. Because we all need to be reminded that kindness and selflessness goes a long way and that there are still amazing people in this world that can sometimes feel so dark.

The day I drove home to Madison for memorial day weekend my brother got really sick. My mom and I went to pick him up from his apartment downtown to bring home so we could take care of him. I’m going to leave the specific details out because they are unimportant but we never made it home. Halfway, Evan had to be taken by ambulance to the ER.  We spent the day there and about 8 hours later he was sent home being told  “it’s just a virus”. He didn’t get out of bed Saturday. My Dad and Evan’s wonderful girlfriend, Makenna stayed home with him so my mom and I were still able to throw Ilana her bridal shower. Evan wasn’t able to get out of bed until Sunday around noon. He felt slightly better. Better enough to move from his bed to the couch. Skipping details again… Monday morning Evan was taken back to the ER by ambulance. 

Long story short, he was admitted that afternoon and was in the hospital for 3 days. They never figured out what was wrong so we’re looking into other tests and possibilities. The important thing is the he’s ok. We are still looking into what went wrong. Now, onto the story of human kindness.

The Tuesday that Evan was in the hospital my family had tickets to see our favorite artists, Andrew McMahon and Allen Stone. We bought our tickets 10 seconds after they went on sale and the concert had been something we’d been looking forward to doing all together for months. 2 months prior to this show, we also had tickets to the same tour in Chicago.  Evan gets frequent debilitating migraines and missed the Chicago show as well because of one. Needless to say, Evan was bumming hard about missing two of his favorites in our hometown. That’s when Makenna and I had the same thought. Why not reach out to them to let them know what’s going on. Maybe they’d send video telling him to feel better or maybe, they’d tell him in person.

That Monday, Makenna wrote a beautiful note to Andrew and Allen and sent it via Instagram. Social media is pretty amazing… A handful of hours went by and Allen responded. No questions asked he said:  “We are coming for ya. We will cruise by at 1pm. Give me a holler tomorrow at noon and we will arrange everything. Thanks for reaching out!” We later found out that Allen saw the message and told the other guys, tomorrow we’re gonna go help out a guy who’s hit a bump in the road. None of them asked questions. They just said, of course! I messaged Allen thanking them after Makenna told me and he said: “Stoked to help out. It’ll be fun! Just don’t tell Evan we are coming. We want to make it a surprise.“ And we did. We didn’t tell Evan or my mom and we couldn’t wait to see the smile on Evan’s face  (one we hadn’t seen in days) when Andrew McMahon, Allen Stone AND Zac Clark walk into his hospital room, instruments in hand.   

Tuesday, Evan was also supposed to move out of his apartment. So, my dad, uncle, aunt and I packed up and cleaned his apartment and filled four cars full of his stuff all while keeping this surprise and waiting, crossing our fingers that these guys actually pull through. We didn’t think they would back out but there are always outside circumstances that happen. 1pm rolled around and these three musical angels and their awesome tour manager holding a video camera get out of the Uber at Meriter hospital in our hometown. Makenna and I met them downstairs and just kept saying thank you, thank you, thank you, you don’t know how much this means to us. They kept saying, we’re so happy to, it’s our pleasure. It was so clear that they were 110% genuine and delighted to be there. They were smiling and happy and were just normal, fun, extremely kind, goofy humans. As we walked through the hospital, they asked about Evan. We filled them in on the whole situation and you could tell that they absolutely cared and were genuinely concerned for all of us. 

They asked me if they should walk into the room and just say hi, or if they should walk in singing. I said they should choose, but they asked me to. I said, let’s go for it. They rolled in singing La La Lie, a Jack’s Mannequin song with a line perfect for the occasion: “well I’ve got friends who, will help me pull through.” Evan’s jaw literally dropped, his head fell into his hands and he started crying. It took about a millisecond until we were all full on balling. It was a cry fest filled with the biggest grins you could imagine. Andrew, Allen and Zac sang the most beautiful acoustic version of La La Lie all with gigantic smiles beaming on each of their faces. As we had hoped, Evan smiled for the first time in days and the smile did not leave his face.

After the first song, they said hi, they asked Evan how he was feeling. Told him they were happy to be there with him and we all chatted. Andrew then sat in the hospital bed with Evan and we all watched and listen to Allen perform another beautiful song. It was such an incredible moment. To see a man who Evan has looked up to (who we all have) for years upon years keep him company and to watch them listen to the music together was just unbelievable. After that, they asked if there were any songs we wanted to hear. A few weeks ago, Andrew Mcmahon released a new song called Ohio which we all love but my Mom is absolutely obsessed with. I asked if he’d sing her favorite song for her. He continued to sit with Evan and sang Ohio. Part way through, he noticed my Mom singing along and pulled her over. They all sat in the hospital bed together, holding hands, and everyone of us sang along.

Even more incredible than them showing up and singing for Evan… after they played three songs they didn’t rush out. They stayed with us for about an hour and we all just hung out. They were cracking jokes and making Evan laugh. We talked about casual things like kite boarding and more serious things like lillness, life struggles and pushing through. Those of you who know Andrew McMahon know that he’s spent quite a bit of time in a hospital. He told Evan stories about how he used to make times in the hospital a bit easier. 

All in all, after Evan gave me permission, I decided this was one very personal story I had to share. Because, it’s a story about selflessness, loving kindness, the healing power of music and a reminder that with all the bad in the world there are such truly exceptional people whose goodness makes the world such a better place.  

This is a thank you to Andrew, Allen, Zac and Chris for being total gems/ mensches/ angels. For selflessly choosing to spend your afternoon in a hospital with strangers. For making all the difference to a sick 22 year old instead of doing anything else you surely could have been doing on a beautiful, sunny day in a great city. We’ve loved you guys for years but you now mean more to our family than  words can express. I've linked a couple of my current favorite songs by these guys below. I hope you'll have a listen and begin (if you haven't already) to enjoy their music and let them brighten your days the way they've brightened many of ours.

xx Ali