As you know, in late September our family found itself in an unfamiliar place. Something terrible had happened and we were dazed, in an unfamiliar place, filled with a sense of sadness, urgency, and confusion.
Immediately we were surrounded by Colleen’s close friends. Friends from her neighborhood, from work, from the kids school. You became our friends and support network. You became a logistical lifeline, allowing us to take care of the many things that needed to be attended to, and most of all, allowed us to be beside Colleen in the ICU as we hoped, prayed, and downright willed her to improve. You provided places to stay, fun distractions for the kids, food at the hospital, and most importantly your prayers, positive energy, and all around good mojo.
News reached the communities of people that know Colleen best; Coudersport, PA and Burlington, VT, and astounding things began to happen. Vigils were held, prayers were shared, and people came together in numbers asking what they could do to help. What followed was truly amazing and the resulting fundraiser was successful far beyond our expectations.
The astounding amount of love and caring that poured forth brought us to tears dozens of times. We spent evenings around the table, tearfully reading through messages of encouragement and sympathy, many from people we don’t know and who don’t know us. There were so many beautiful and heartfelt notes of compassion shared through cards, donation comments, and social media messages that have been inspiring and provided strength at some very difficult times. You have changed our outlook and brought us solace. You’re proof that there is much more love and compassion in the world than the evening news would have you believe. You’re proof that there is still such a thing as community, that neighbors still help neighbors and that people are inherently good.
So this holiday we have much to be thankful for. We’re thankful for you, the people of these two generous and supportive communities and your compassion, and for Colleen’s close friends and their enduring support and sustained aid. We couldn’t have made it through without so much help and encouragement. We’re thankful for the doctors, nurses, and therapists whom have been so amazing and who believed in her all along, and for first responders who did their job so well that I get to sit and write this with a joyful heart. We’re thankful for the exceptional people with the state of Vermont and city of Burlington that have provided direction, guidance, and resources. Finally, we’re extremely thankful to have Colleen back for the holidays.
May the coming year bring you more love, compassion, community, and surpassed expectations. We thank you, truly and dearly, with all our hearts.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
The Bray and Graham Families