It is Sunday morning, and few in my house are stirring – yesterday was an incredibly busy day for everyone, and by nighttime, everyone was tired. I am not surprised by the morning quiet today; I am appreciating having some time to think about the last 24 hours and to understand the depth of what the word gratitude means to me.
After a very busy day of multiple soccer practices, robotics practice, and an all day ski race, Frank, Tommy and I left in the cold night to head over to a benefit being held in our community for a police officer. Not an uncommon event here in our City; this City rallies around its own when someone is in need, and I knew that this even would be no exception.
We arrived early, knowing that we would have some time to mingle and look at auction items before we worked our shift at the ticket tables later that evening. We checked in, grabbed our orange volunteer shirts, and entered the main area of the facility that we knew all too well – the same facility that was the host of a benefit held for Frank, just two short summers ago.
What hit me the moment that we walked in was that it was full. Completely full. And it was only 5 o’clock.
I knew that people would be here – this community believes that no one should fight alone, and when it involves one of their first responders, the outreach is impressive.
Last night seemed to be beyond that – it was breathtaking.
To see a sea of orange-shirted volunteers everywhere, smiling, helping, full of energy to get their assigned jobs done; to see food being served so fast, and being brought out even faster; to see hundreds of items being auctioned off, and people readily signing their names to the bidding sheets – breathtaking.
All of this energy quickly took me back – back to a time when I could not appreciate the working, the energy, and the frenetic excitement that I felt last night. To a time where the sight in front of me was so overwhelming that I coasted through the night, with some snapshots in my head, holding Frank’s hand, and being a bit over-come knowing that so many of these people did not know us, but where here anyway, because they cared.
They care – and that was the message last night, from the roughly 1,300 (that is what is being reported in the press) people that attended, spent their money willingly, and volunteered countless hours to make the event run like the smooth-oiled machine that it did last night.
Last night, I got to mingle with people that stopped repeatedly to check in with us and Frank’s recovery, with people that I had not seen in years and that convinced me to buy a drawing ticket for an ATV (yes that is you, Jay and Brian, Tommy is really sad he did not win!) and with community members that are there, in droves, helping someone in need.
It was a bit surreal, sitting on the other side, watching the miracle of people giving back without thought, buying tickets, placing bids, shaking hands, and smiling – so much smiling – in honor of one of their own. Whether it was a community member, a friend, or an officer, they each held a part of Sgt. Brysky last night in their heart, and they let him know, moment after moment, that they were there for him.
When we left at about 8:30 last night, I was overcome with exhaustion from the emotional push that had been going on all night. Relishing in the positive supportive energy for this officer’s family all night was one thing, but mix that energy with the memory bank of emotions from the benefit from Frank, and I was pretty wiped out. As we began to exit the event, we were stopped, over and over again, by people talking with Frank, asking how he is doing, when he goes back, what the update is…. It takes some time for us to finally make our way out the door.
In those moments, I remember why we have been able to stay the course for so long during this journey; why we have made it this far without losing faith, without losing strength, without losing ourselves. It is because of the ongoing greatness that is the community we live in, the people that we associate with, and those that see beyond their own family, to those around them, that need help.
These people give endlessly, to this family that now needs to feel the level of support that can be delivered from those that truly care, and to others, like us that are farther out on their journey, but are grateful for the questions, the checking in, and the hugs.
Never let life take away from you that feeling of ultimate joy when giving to another person that needs help.
There is nothing else like it.