Brute force and ignorance. That’s pretty much the way I go through life. I don’t so much take the road less traveled as the one full of potholes, strewn with fallen trees, that leads right off a cliff.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure I was some genocidal maniac’s mistress in a former life.
So as we have gone through all the stages of Claire’s ordeal, I often hear, “I can’t believe how strong you’ve been through all of this! I would be (curled up in a ball, drunk on vodka-Xanax martinis, sucking my thumb in the corner) a disaster!”
Lemme let you in on a little secret, dear Reader. I. Am. Not. Strong.
I don’t really know how to explain what I am. I only know strong is not it. I think terrified is probably closer. I live in a constant state of paranoia, anxiety, and terror. Terrified all of the horrible, disastrous scenarios which run through my head on a 24-hour reel will come true. Terrified I will let one tear fall and then they won’t stop, and the monsoon will wipe out all of Mason County. I am so afraid of letting go of anything, because then everything would go. On the rare occasions the tears start to fall, I literally grit my teeth and, through sheer force of will, stop. Because I just can’t. And if that sentence seems incomplete it’s because it is. I just can’t... everything.
Throughout Claire’s diagnosis, surgery, recovery, and relapse I have had many people - kind, generous, amazing people - ask what I need. I pretty much always say “nothing”. That’s not really true. The truth is - I don’t know. I have no idea what I need. I really have no idea what is going on around me. My focus has pretty much been keeping Claire alive, keeping Quinn from freaking out, and putting one foot in front of the other. That’s it. Peter has been pretty amazing in keeping the day-to-day wheel a’grinding because I’m clueless. I don’t think I could manage to wash a dish, or do a load of laundry. Cooking is touch and go. It’s just keep Claire alive, keep Quinn sane, and keep on trucking.
As most of you know, 3 months before Claire’s onset of symptoms, I lost my long-time job. I’ve talked about how painful this was for me before, and it’s still difficult for me. Not only because I loved it, but because I was paid well for it, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing in our area which could even hope to compare. It was, and is, a huge blow to my family.
We have managed to scrape by through a series of odd jobs and freelancing, along with some meager savings. But, just this past week, I realized... the well has run dry and we’re broke. Completely, totally, utterly broke. The almost twice-weekly trips to Grand Rapids or Traverse City along with lost hours at my part-time job has depleted our coffers to a measly $15. This was a wake up call I did not need.
I panicked. We’ve been living on such a shoestring budget, I don’t even have expenses I can cut. The credit cards are maxed out and I am out of options. After I ran the numbers for a third time, I sat back in my chair, stunned.
We are so screwed.
The thing is, in the overall scheme of things with everything going on I’m not even sure I would care about being broke except... Claire has a very important appointment in Grand Rapids next week. We have to somehow get to GR, stay for two days, and feed four people... on $15. And I just can’t work enough magic to make that work.
We are so screwed.
On a bit of a lark, I asked a close group of my friends what they would think about a fundraiser. I don’t even know how serious I really was. I mean, we seriously need help, but the thought of asking for it seemed so awful - I just couldn’t imagine doing it. But still, desperate times and all that... I asked my friends. No one seemed to think it was disgustingly tacky or ridiculous. I was given some pretty great information and ideas, actually. One friend, Erin, even said she was totally “on it”. I figured she meant she was going to find out what putting on a fundraiser entailed. I went to bed knowing I would never actually do anything about it. The whole thing just seemed so overwhelming and icky I don’t think I could do it. Not now. Not for this. I need to hold on to my fragile pride.
So... this afternoon I was dinking around on Facebook like I usually am and saw a GoFundMe fundraiser for “A Family In Need” and... holy shit... that’s Claire! My friend Erin apparently was totally on it... she created a fundraiser page for my family. And... holy shit, someone has already donated $100!
I had to sit down. And grit my teeth because the tears started to fall.
As I was still staring at the screen in disbelief, a message popped up:
Erin: Don't freak out about the fundraising page that I have set up. I'm sending most of it by invite only...
Me: Holy. Shit. I about crapped myself. I am seriously crying. You asshole. You made me cry.
Erin: Well at least it isn't because I punched you in the face.
That. That right there is why this woman is my friend. Best. Response. Evah.
A little while ago, I received a message from my friend Heather:
I have to tell you that I wish we would have done something sooner. The thought had crossed my mind 1000 times whenever I and hundreds of other people offered to help you and Peter in any way they could. When Erin invited me to the fundraiser page today I instantly messaged her to make sure you knew what she was doing because I honestly thought you would go "ape shit" all over us.
Me: It needed to be done. As much as it pains me, absolutely pains me to say that, it needed to. But, I'll be honest, if it had been anyone else, I probably would have gone ape shit. But, Erin kinda scares me so what am I going to do?? :-)~~~
Sometimes, lots of times, it’s really really hard to ask for help. But sometimes, sometimes you don’t even have to ask. Friends just know you need it.
Early this evening, my friend Rebecca launched the “public” Claire Chronicles fundraising page for my family. Within hours so many friends and family had shared the links and people were donating too -- I was completely overwhelmed.
I am awed, humbled, embarrassed, and yet so proud to call these people friends. They are helping me take care of my baby - this village of friends and family and strangers are helping me and my baby - I don’t have the words to tell everyone thank you enough, so I will borrow these:
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton