I met Michelle Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2005, when she was director of the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Our youngest son had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an 8-year-old in 1996. Her son, Jesse, had been diagnosed with the same disease in March of 2000, so we had something in common. We did a lot of fundraising for JDRF at the time, and I had stopped by her office to drop off some cash and checks. We chatted for a bit and discovered that we were both involved in the local triathlon community as well. I had just completed my first Ironman in 2004 and she was training for her first attempt at Ironman in 2006.
We would see each other occasionally at her office and at triathlons around the area. She and Jesse had become tireless advocates for people in the diabetes community. My wife and I were saddened to hear that Jesse died unexpectedly at the age of 13 in February, 2010, from complications related to his diabetes. It was a devastating event for Michelle and her family and, as you might suspect, it resonated deeply with our family as well.
We stayed in touch for a period of time after that, including the years she worked for Brava magazine. Brava had planned to do a feature on my wife and her business success, and Michelle was instrumental in directing that project. In 2014, my wife and I relocated from Wisconsin to Florida and I lost touch with Michelle. We did, however, remain friends on social media.
In February of 2020, I saw that Michelle had posted a question on her Facebook page. She wanted suggestions for a good new book to read. Having recently started my own publishing company, Skrive Publications, I commented on her timeline and suggested she read one of my books!
She called me a few minutes later, and said, “Dan, I think you might be the answer to my prayers!”
Michelle told me she had started writing a book shortly after Jesse died and had added chapters to the story over the course of the next five years. It was one of the ways she grieved the loss of her son. She had been encouraged by others to get the story published but like many unknown and unpublished writers, she found it difficult to get anybody to look at her manuscript. She submitted it to several different publishing companies. Nobody would even look at it, let alone publish it.
I told her to send the manuscript to me. I’d review it and give her some honest feedback. She sent me everything she had finished at the time. Honestly, it was raw and a bit unorganized and needed a lot of work. But, like I’ve always said, “Every story matters.” This story matters to her; it matters to me; and I believe it will matter to a lot of people who have children with type 1 diabetes or are diabetic themselves. I told Michelle that I would be honored to work with her to get her story published.
I was talking to another independent publisher recently. He was giddy about a project that he had just finished. He said, “Dan, there’s something magical about helping a person bring his or her story to life. It doesn’t matter if the published book sells a million copies or just makes the author happy. Every story matters.”
Jesse was Here will be an inspiring read and a helpful tool for other people who have experienced what Michelle went through. It is raw and real and offers guidance and hope to anybody who has lost a loved one to this awful disease.