Saturday, June 30, 2012

what I believe in

I hope you'll bear with me as I continue to stray from my usual schtick of complaining about running and pictures of my ass.


I'm not sure where I begin telling this story, but I feel strongly that it is a story that needs to be told.  I could start it on Sunday morning, when Graham was fine, or Monday when he started throwing up or Tuesday when he stopped eating or Wednesday when he ended up having emergency surgery - actually five emergency surgeries - over the course of a very long night.  I could tell you about all the conversations we had when realized that these expenses would far exceed the limit on our credit cards and the depths of our savings account, already depleted by other financial hardship, and all the discussions we had about selling our cars and our bikes and even my wedding rings to keep our family alive.  I could repeat all the things the vet said about his lack of progress, the number of times she told us to prepare ourselves, when we realized that even if we emptied our pockets and our hearts, it still might not be enough.


I could tell you all of those things, and they would be true.  


I believe that faith, that spirituality and what you believe in is a highly personal thing.  I know what I believe in, but I would never want to force that on another human being.  I think it matters less who and what you believe in than it does that you have faith at all.  I believe in karma, I believe that there is a force bigger and grander than all of us, I believe that the universe is not an accident.  I believe that when you cut someone off in traffic and then stub your toe, you've earned it.  I believe that when your husband is offered a job in another city and two days later the city suffers the worst forest fires in the history of the state, that it is a sign you should not go.  And I'm grappling with my faith in a God that would send so much tragedy to my family in such a short time, but I'm trying to find the lesson in all of this.


When Amy and Liz asked me if they could do something to help us - and they did ask - my first response was no, especially when they wanted to use the blog and this community.  Because I feel strongly about the kind of community that has existed here for over three years now, and in no way would I ever want to exploit that community for personal gain.  It felt tasteless and sickening.  But Liz told me that the ability to ask for help when it is needed is a skill I need to cultivate - and she's right - and that the generosity of the human spirit would be good for my soul.  So I said yes to them, I said they could do whatever they liked, and I will take responsibility for any negative reactions or responses to their ask, because this is my community, my blog, and I am ultimately responsible for any content that is posted here.  


Letting my friends ask for charity on our behalf is maybe one of the more difficult things I've had to do in my life.  I'm sure many will understand.  To swallow my pride, to accept the fact that I have failed to support my family, to have to look in the mirror and face the decisions I have made that have led us to a point of such instability - it continues to make me sick.  It makes me feel small and inept and mean, it makes me hate myself, especially knowing that there are people out there that have written these things down, the worst things that I think about myself, and called them truth, have called them tasteless and shocking and weak.  But making this about me, making this situation about my failures and my inadequacies, doing that is staining the generosity, the pure love and heart that has been shown to me by so many people.  Is that the lesson in this?  I don't know yet. 


But what I do know is that there are not enough words, there is not enough time and space to be grateful enough for what has been done for us, for what continues to be done for us from people and places that I never would have expected.  Because of this generosity - a word that I am aware I am overusing but simply have no substitute - we have been able to keep Graham in the hospital for an additional day instead of being forced to make the financial decision Friday morning to bring him home - a decision that most certainly would have ended his life.  During that extra day, he got up and walked again.  And it is giving us space to continue and try to find the means to keep him in the hospital for today and hopefully tomorrow to get stronger before we do bring him home on a prayer.  


What happened to Graham was an accident, but how we move forward will not be.  Thom and I discussed this on Friday when donations started showing up, and we agreed that we would pay everyone back, no matter how long it took.  But I feel again like that is tainting the spirit that gave so freely.  Instead, we decided to match every penny donated to Graham with a donation of our own to the golden retriever rescue that I volunteer with and another one to Lost Dog, a rescue organization that Amy has volunteered with here.  If anyone does wish to be paid back, we will happily and freely give that money as soon as we are able, and all of this will be a financial priority - certainly one over running shoes and race entries and frosty drinks with an umbrella.  It may take us six months, it may take us ten years, but we will pay this both forward and back.  


You may continue to judge the decisions that I have made to protect my family, and I understand.  I would do the same.  I can snark with the best of them, although I believe that there is a difference between complaining about someone because they talk about their watts all the time and take pictures of their oatmeal and my situation, but you may not.  You may hold me accountable to the promise we have made, but I can tell you that you don't have to.  Because if Graham makes it through this, if he comes home and spends the next twelve years of his life showing me where the back door is so we can go outside, I will never forget.  And if he doesn't make it, if he isn't strong enough to continue fighting, if the time we had with him will forever not be enough, then I will be reminded by the hole in my heart that will never close, not for the rest of my life.  

99 comments:

  1. I will continue to hope he will be ok.......please ask for help, we must be kind to one another.....you know how to reach me if I can do anything else.

    Ally

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do not wish to be paid back or any gift to the Graham fund to be a detriment to anything you do moving forward. I do want Graham to get better and I have faith that he will. You all love him something fierce and that must pull him through. Hugs to you both, I know this is a horrible thing to go through.

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  3. If I could be there to help you I would be. If I could make Graham well I would. You don't owe me anything. If I could give more I would, but im here to send good thoughts to your puppy from all 3 of mine. Keep fighting Graham.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You don't owe anybody shit. You and Thom and the furry family are in a hard spot. If we can't help you after all you have done for us then what does that say about US? You have given us your time and perspective and we owe you a thank you and now that your family needs us we cannot turn our backs on you.

    If some of us has $100 to spare then awesome. If some of us have $1 to spare then awesome. You've given to us and now it is our turn to give to you.

    Keep fighting Graham. Your family on the interwebz is sending you positive thoughts and vibes and we are pulling for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with Jason 100%. Don't listen to the haters. And please do not pay me back. Spend your energy on your family. We love you, Katie! You can make it through this. You WILL make it through this. If I can help, just say the word.

      Delete
  5. Katie, I have read for a while as a lurker. I have struggled a lot of my life with letting others help me. And I keep reading how you feel you have failed to protect your family and it breaks my heart. Dont you realize that the people helping you are part of your family. Family is not just blood, or the people (and pets) we live with. It is the people who are part of our hearts or the hearts we touch. And protecting that family is not one person's role, we all take our turn. Right now it is other people's turns to help take care of the family you are part of!!!!!!

    Love you, Pam (your SIL in case you arent sure who this is)

    ReplyDelete
  6. What Jason said times 1000.

    What does it say about our humanity if we don't help others when we have the chance to? I for one don't want to find out.

    Keep fighting Graham! We are all in your corner praying for you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, Katie, this is so hard. My sister lost her dog 1.5 years ago, and like you they did everything they could (and the vet never found out why she had a swollen paw one day, swollen face the next day, and throwing up blood the day after that). They spent $8k on her care, only to lose her in 3 days, and though they got into debt, and are still paying her bills, they don't regret it one bit, even if the vets were never able to figure out what was wrong with her, at least they know they tried everything in their power to bring their baby home.

    I truly hope Graham recovers, as I know pets are part of our family, and only people with pets understand that connection. I'm praying for him, for you, for your family (and I'm the "only religious when needed" type, but prayers can never hurt). Keep us updated and good luck. And if what happened to him was an accident, definitely write about it when you're ready, so those of us with pets at home can try to prevent it from happening too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Please send me the vet contact information to: bagelo@comcast.net Graham needs to stay in the hospital and I will cover that for a couple more nights.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The idea of asking for help is the hardest thing for me. Sometimes, it's easier for other people to take the asking out of your hands. And friends are friends, whether linked by place or experience or the kind of crazy community of the web. I'm so glad so many of your friends could help you out, and I'm sorry I can't. Can I send cookies?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Asking for help is very tough. I'm so glad you were able to. Helping each other is one of those amazing things that brings all different types of people together.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I never want to be paid back nor do I ever want you to feel like you owe me. This is what friends are for- both real life friends and Internet friends. I know that you will be there for me when I need it, and that's all I need. What I believe is that you and Thom have hearts of gold and are going through a very hard time and that people love you and want to see you happy and see graham pull through.

    Graham is a fighter- he learned it from his parents.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just never forget you are an IronWoman and I'm sure your family is as strong as you are. Keep the faith we'll be here!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I cannot imagine anything I want less than money from you guys to flow back to us, or for money from you guys flowing forward to a rescue organization to keep you from doing something that you want to do no matter how small that thing might seem (even frosty drinks with an umbrella). You keep taking care of your sick kid and yourselves and let your community do the little bit of the heavy lifting that we can do for the time being, and remember that you HAVE this community precisely because that's the kind of people you guys are... everyone out here knows that you'd never think twice about helping out when someone needs it.

    (And heck, you can even feel free to USE the community -- just point us to where people are drinking the haterade, and let us do THAT heavy lifting too. I'm only kidding a tiny little bit.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, sweetie, I don't know you and this is the first time I've read your blog ( found you through Page @ twentysixandthesome) but I was crying when I read about your poor baby. My gift is given freely without any expection of repayment. Take care of Graham. I lost my precious cat 2 years and I still tear up when I think of her ( damn I'm doing it again)

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  15. U have a small check coming from me, and please do not pay me back! I just want your lil Graham to heal, that's all. :) You are doing what is needed to help save your family member- asking for help is hard, but doesn't show weakness or neediness- it shows strength and bravery. (It's times like this that also restore faith in humanity (as you stated)) I wish your family much strength and Graham cont'd healing!

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  16. What Jason said, x100. We're here, helping as we're able, because we care and we can! You don't owe anyone anything (except puppy pictures when you have them ;) ). We gave out of love, and hope for your family.

    Let D & I know if you need anything! We're close and ready to lend four hands. :) xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  17. Katie, I'm still praying so hard for Graham--I will happily donate more to save your sweet boy's life. Dogs are family members in my book and I will argue it with anyone who tried to dispute.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love you and your ginormous heart so very much.

    And sweet, fuzzy Graham and all that he has done for you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. sending lots of love and healing to graham, and a small donation is coming too.
    we escaped a similar thing just days ago , and it cost us only 2 vet hospital visits. i know the stress, and i know about faith. keep it up.
    speedy and complete healing and abundance to you all.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Katie - I know you barely know me, other then, John and Russ' friend. I share the same love for my little furry kids. I lost one about 2 years ago...he was three. I saw something funny about him and I waited a few days because it didn't look serious. I would be getting paid in a few days, whereas, I wouldn't be strapped for cash. He died suddenly 3 days after I saw the first "quirk.". If I would've had a better budget or friends that cared as much he might still be here today. I struggle everyday with my decision. Please, keep every cent donated and if you feel the need to pay me back...please do! But leave the stamp off the envelope...Seriously, if you want to pay it back...pay it forward. Help someone else in need. Just don't forget the kitters too. (my buddy was a predominantly white cat with a black tail...so cute)

    Take care and...the wager is on! Step up Graham!!!
    Scott

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  21. Katie, all I can say is that I am glad I could help somehow. I may not have bought a tshirt, but the tough got tougher and you and your family deserve a break from all the curve balls that life has been throwing at you. You inspired me in so many ways and now I feel that I can do something in return. You don't owe me anything, you take care of pup and I truly hope that he'll pull through. Hugs to all!

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  22. Have not stopped thinking of you guys and Graham, hoping it is all enough to get him through. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Life (or what/whomever) hands out shitty cards sometimes, even to good people. I hope these good people and this very good dog come through the other side. <3

    ReplyDelete
  23. Second what Jason said! You don't owe anyone anything--people WANT to help and I know that's a hard thing to accept (most of us hate accepting help) but there are times when it needs to happen and this is one of them. We're all pulling for Graham and for you--hopefully many happy walks are ahead for you all.

    ReplyDelete
  24. We are (recently) on one income and don't have much, but I sent in what I could! We've got 4 adopted cats and I know the love for furry companions goes far beyond any other relationship in life. Good things (i.e. support, help, aid) come to good people! Good luck to you guys!!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Prayers to you, Thom, and especially your furbaby, Graham. He is family and should be treated as such. I would do (and have done) the same. My heart aches for you. I have never read your blog, but your friend at Cook Train Eat Race solicited on your behalf. It seems you are surrounded by a caring community. Mine is NOT a loan. Best of luck to you all!! - Amy

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  26. Katie, I just started reading a few months ago, around the time you lost your job, and I've been really eagerly following your progression to CDA. The post asking for help was the first time I heard about Graham. The LAST thing I thought was that you should have had enough savings, shouldn't have paid for IM, etc etc etc, and when I ran across that GOMI post that I assume you're referring to, I thought it was petty and nasty and small. What does she care? (For the record, I think GOMI is a lot of fun, but I vehemently disagreed with this particular bit of snark). I'm going to send you a small donation this weekend for sure because I know how horrible it would be if the same thing happened to part of my family (I lost my job too and we certainly don't have enough credit or cash on hand to deal with something catastrophic like this; thank god the endurance blog community is out there to help you out beyond any family and friends in real life, of which I'm sure you have many).

    Wow, holy awkward, long comment. Anyway, I'm thinking of you & Graham and sending good thoughts (as well as a tiny donation - which you are absolutely not supposed to pay back!)

    ReplyDelete
  27. You shouldn't ever be judged for wanting to follow your heart and your dreams. Life happens and how you carry yourself through these tough times is truly what matters. Who are any of us to judge? If something bad happened to my family and I needed money I'd definitely look at all of the races I've done or the track I pay to run at or the dumb amounts of Dunkin donuts coffee I have to have but you can't always plan for these things. I'm still praying for Graham and I'm also praying that you and Thom aren't so hard on yourselves. As you said this community is here for one another. Lean on us and if there comes a time, we'll lean on you.

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  28. Katie, it breaks my heart to hear you talk like this. PLEASE do not feel bad or guilty or any of those things. Asking is not forcing, coaxing, coercing, or begging, it is just asking. I, personally, felt zero pressure, but leaped at the chance go give a small donation and I would be insulted if you were to feel you had to pay it back or even pay it forward in the form of money.

    You may think that we have done something for you, but you have done something for me! You have allowed me to feel that I was able to help someone, even just a little bit. What I gave was no burden on my own bank account, but what I gained was the happiness that my help, combined with the help of this little community, will make a difference to someone. I relate personally with your situation, and I know how excruciating it is to even think about having to put a price tag on your love and the life of your pet. How can anyone be forced put a dollar amount on the value of their pet's life???

    I can tell by reading all of the comments above that these people also feel connected to you and your situation, and that each and every one of them WANTED to give what was in their hearts and their budgets to give. You owe no apologies, guilt, or sorrow!

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  29. You should always follow your heart. And never explain why you do something.

    Please know, that while I am not in a position to send money, I am praying constantly for Graham!

    Love you!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hey Katie,

    i stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and was looking forward to reading about your race at CDA seeing as how that was my first IM last year. I'm also mother to the best fur kids around and think what you are doing is only natural and I would do the same if I was in your position. I was so sad to hear about Graham and hope that he continues to make progress. Praying for his recovery! And no, please don't pay me back. Karma will one day:)
    Meredith

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  31. I don't know who would judge the decisions that you've made to protect Graham. I'll be thinking of him and of you.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi. I found your blog from Blonde Pony Tail, and I stopped by (I'm following now). I just wanted to say that my heart (and my husband's) goes out to you and yours. We have two dogs and they are our family. I unfortunately cannot make a monetary donation right now, but I wanted you to know I am thinking of you and Graham from now until I hear that he is well. My heart breaks for you and I would never judge you for doing all that you possibly could to get help for him. I think it takes a brave person to admit when we need help, no matter what the situation.

    I will praying too. I believe more than ever before in the power of prayer. I truly do. If you have a moment, maybe this song can provide you some comfort because it did me. http://www.wordstorunby.com/2012/06/thats-why-i-pray.html

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  33. I had to come back and re-read this and it STILL brought tears to my eyes. I'm grateful that you did not have to make a pre-mature choice and that Graham was able to have another day to recover--look what that 24 hours did for him. He is your lil boy once again.

    Anyone who argues that one's beloved pet doesn't deserve a fighting chance, is not a person I EVER want to associate with. Lots of love to you Graham!

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  34. Katie,
    I do not expect you to pay me back. You don't even have to pay it forward with money. I know you'll pay it forward with acts of kindness to others.
    I'm glad Graham is slowly getting better and I'm thankful that I was able to help in some way.

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  35. No judgments here Katie. I'm glad that things are going well for Graham and that you got the support you needed. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do in life and accepting the help you receive is often harder. Don't feel guilty for one second about the generosity that was granted to you - you and your family deserved it and people wouldn't have come forward to help you if you didn't.

    Thinking of you and yours! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  36. It is truly sad that people are passing judgment! Tell those haters to suck it. I haven't been reading your blog very long but your situation touched my heart without even knowing you. And like you mentioned karma always comes back to you. Hopefully all those judgers will never have to experience what you are going through because they will truly understand the saying you "reap what you sow."
    I am glad to hear Graham is doing better. He is in my thoughts. I hope he has the most speediest recovery!

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  37. I have tears in my eyes reading this post. Your words absolutely do justice to your feelings of gratitude. You should not feel obligated to return the favor nor guilty for accepting the help that you got. Those of us who helped did it because we WANTED to and because we COULD. And it wasn't because I think that I will get something back or even because I wanted good karma. My heart hurt for you and your family and I know I would have made the same decisions to keep my pup alive in the same situation (putting every dime I have or don't have into his care). You made the right decisions to save Graham and to let your friends ask for help. I hope that Graham continues to fight and pull through and you will be able sleep peacefully knowing you did the right thing...no matter what anyone who doesn't understand will say.

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  38. I often find I will come back to certain posts of yours over and over, and this one was no different. I’ve probably read it 3 times now and each time it brought tears to my eyes. I appreciate your honesty ~ it truly is amazing and inspiring.
    I will admit to feeling slightly guilty for not being in a position to help monetarily, but can say I have never stopped sending positive thoughts your way, and I am so happy to read that your fur-baby has finally come home. Wishing him a speedy and full recovery!

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  39. Girl, getting out of a sucky job you hate to take a GREAT opportunity to grow professionally, personally, etc is not a bad choice nor a failure. I once took a job because it was more stable than the tiny company I also interviewed with ... 6 months later the big stable place had to cut staff to a third.

    Though I can only speak for myself, I believe those who gave truly wanted to give -- with no expectation of repayment, or even forward-payment. They saw a problem, and unlike so many problems in our world, this is one they could actually help with -- could make a difference in! And that's a great feeling.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi Katie. I recently started reading your blog and this was one of the first posts I read. Holy Cow! I was sitting right next to my dog when I was reading, and know I would be devastated if the same thing happened to us. I think you are truly blessed to have such a great community to be able to help out, and you've obviously been an active contributor to that community. Or you wouldn't have gotten the support that you did. That's what community is for - to support each other. I also find it appalling that someone takes the time to go onto another website to spew judgement and hatred about another person's blog. If you don't agree with it, don't donate. Don't read it. Please don't let that affect you. The people who matter obviously support what was done, and I would have too if I had read this in June. Don't feel guilty - bad things happen. Glad to hear that Graham is doing well. Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
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