Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Thank You Speech I Chose Not To Read At Gabrielle's Fundraiser

My sister Danielle with Krista and Eva (Eric's sister)
I asked my sister Danielle, “So, should I keep it short? Like prairie wedding with whiskey short?” And she said something like, “Well, it’s not like the people coming don’t care. As long as it’s real, I think they would love to hear what you have to say.”

So I’ll do my best to keep it short … and real.

This entire weekend has left Amy and I speechless … from the first time we learned about it.

I suppose no one wants to receive charity because … well … I think we’re all prideful, and none of
us want to be charity cases.  So here I am. Gabrielle’s Dad. In awe. Totally humbled.  

Eric's thank you pic on the
website to everyone who came
Let me start by saying that, Danielle and Eric, you two are truly exceptional. And I’d like to share something I wrote last spring on our blog for Gabrielle, when we were in our 3rd month at BC Children’s Hospital for her stem-cell transplant.
Exceptional ~ May 24, 2011
Thank you Daniel and Eric … so so much for organizing this. You two are exceptional to the very core of the word, and this fundraiser is going to help us enjoy our time with Gabrielle so, so much more.

I just want to share with you how this is going to help. 

For starters, we’ve really come to realize that life can be hard. In all sort of ways … life can be hard. 

For us, life raising a severely special needs child is hard. Raising a little girl who is terminally ill is really hard. 

Maybe some of you have been through similar experiences with a child of your own, or a brother or sister or parent or close friend going through something difficult, but life just isn't always easy. For many, many people, life is hard.

For us, there’s tons of extra attention that needs to be paid from sunrise to sunset: there’s the meds, careful bathing around a central line to prevent infection, making sure our boys don’t put jump or hurt Gabrielle because her bones are soft and they could seriously hurt her (or worse), and on and on. 

There’s the lack of sleep with medical contraptions going off through the night, and there’s the lack of sleep just because you worry. And there’s also sadness, which is tiring in its own right.

I’m sharing this because you are all helping us with this. It’s incredible really. It will help us to start putting the pieces back together, as much as we can. It will help us start living a more “normal” life with Gabrielle … and our two little boys. In so many ways.

You guys really don’t know how amazing this is for us, or maybe you do. We are so grateful. Seriously. And sincerely. Thank you.

. . .

Aside from everything I’ve already said, I think the most amazing thing about this weekend is what our little Gabrielle has taught us all about life.

I think a little bit of her innocence and love and vulnerability has touched our hearts in similar and different ways. 

I’ll share mine.

Something happens to you when you look at a little baby – a little child – and know they won’t live very long.  Something even greater happens when you’re that child’s parent. To put it simply, it forces you to confront reality.  

When we got the news about Gabrielle, that whole first day I asked myself over and over and over, “How are we going to raise a little girl who’s going to die?” 

Like how do you do that?

We found out you just do it.

You just do it because you have to. Because you want to. Because there’s this little angel – just like every baby is a little angel – who looks up at you with the most loving eyes.

This forces you to realize some amazing things about life.

Things like life is hard.

It’s not all easy.

Life's not perfect, despite how much we want things to be perfect.  

And how living through hardship and imperfections makes you stronger. Makes you more human.  More real.

Raising a child who you know is going to die makes you realize that what you thought was important actually isn’t. It makes you realize how most people’s world views are like houses of cards. And how most of us will go to great lengths to protect our houses of cards from getting blown down by the winds of reality.

Gabrielle blew down our house of cards. She stripped away so many of our false illusions and helped us realize what really matters. 

So what matters?  Well, I guess whatever we think matters, matters, to a certain extent. But I guess what am I saying is that – as morbid as it sounds – our darling Gabrielle has taught us that our time on earth isn’t permanent. There’s nothing permanent or perfect about it.  

We’re here right now, and we’ll be somewhere else tomorrow, and somewhere else a year from now … and definitely not around in 50 or 80 years.

Life is limited. Life is what you do in between the start and finish. Some of it will be good. Some bad. Some of it happy. Some of it sad. And that’s okay. 

All these things are part of being human. 

I guess Gabrielle has taught us that all we have – all that really matters – is how we spend our time. Our time with one another. 

Thank you so much for your generosity; thank you so much for coming tonight.

1 comment:

  1. People's generosity is incredible. I love the video.
    The picture of Michael and Gabrielle lying down both drinking their "baba's" is so funny!

    Gabrielle, your smile (@ 3:38) is so precious!