Remaining compassionate toward others is an exercise in endurance these days. The Armageddon folks are probably having a field day with the earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and such. There does seem to be a lot going on with Mother Earth. And then there are the personal catastrophes.
Mara and Samsara are cyclical, never-ending. Things are always happening to people. I’ll bet each of us knows someone who has recently suffered some loss, some tragedy, some illness or injury that has changes their lives. And as compassionate, mindful people, we jump to offer comfort, support and maybe even a casserole.
When my daughter became catastrophically ill back in 1996, community support kept me from going over the edge. More than a year of assistance from her school, family friends and neighbors, as well as her father’s work acquaintances buoyed us through the dark days. People gave of their time and hearts to a child and her family in grave danger of death in every way. I am grateful to this day.
When a friend in Virginia finally got her very own horse after 30 years of catch riding and leasing, there was a celebration. She hacked out and showed with well-earned pride and a palpable happiness after so many years. Finally she was able to bond with a horse who was truly hers, and vice versa. It was a match made in heaven. Until suddenly the horse died. She was surrounded by love and support as she worked through the loss and grief.
The thing is, I wonder how it is for her now. She hasn’t gotten a new horse. Many months later, I know she is still grieving. No horse, no equestrian life, still catch-riding. I do not have to wonder how it was for me in the ensuing years after the initial catastrophe with my daughter. It went from dreadful to unimaginably worse, with the added burden of managing it alone.
But as with a string of natural disasters, folks get compassion fatigue. Seeing me exhausted and near the edge of insanity, people would recite to me the (they thought) wise analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on your child. Then they wandered off to make sure that their golden, healthy children got to soccer practice on time. I didn’t resent them for that, but I did resent the lameness of their unsolicited advice. If they’d taken the time to look (which was awfully hard when protecting themselves from the pain that comes along with compassion overload), they’d have seen that my arms were too tired to lift the oxygen mask.
The initial frenzy of empathy and assistance for Courtney King-Dye has hit its zenith. From personal experience, I envision the downslope. Attention will wander toward personal matters. Because raising your own family, caring for your own horses, doing your own job, are understandably a priority. And then there is the next big disaster. Novelty renews compassion without fatigue.
Let me share with you from my experience this fact: while attention from others wanders, and the initial danger eases, struggle goes on. Reports of Courtney’s continued and seemingly miraculous progress pile up, and we may feel that it’s OK to turn our attention elsewhere. And it is, to a certain degree. Spreading the compassion around never hurts. But remaining mindful of the evolving struggle of others keeps our hearts open.
In six weeks, six months, a year, Courtney King-Dye will still be battling the aftereffects of her accident. If we care, we will be there to help. But but but, you say, humans don’t have that long of an attention span. Sadly, we don’t. Especially when it’s not us that’s the issue. Two years down the road, I could have certainly used a casserole on the rare nights I left my daughter in the hospital for a few hours rest in my own bed and respite from stale sandwiches from a machine. It would have been nice to have some of that early frenzied assistance paced out so that I didn’t have to clean up after dogs who’d been waiting patiently for my return, or find a way to get the grass mowed after a six-week absence. Courtney and her family will face the same dilemmas.
What can we do to remain mindful of her continuing battles? If we don’t know her personally, then the casserole idea is pretty much out, along with offering to mow the grass and walk her dogs, or exercise her horses. But there is an option I can think of, and it’s a simple one. The Courtney King-Dye Medical Fund eBay Store has been very successful. But predictably, numbers are down.
If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, you can easily help by posting about it. The rewards of offering something for sale (service or goods) are great. Watching as your item is bid on is fun, and it feels good to know you will help defray the costs of care that are not covered by insurance. For those in the equestrian/equine business, offering something for sale is excellent PR/advertising. As everyone who is reading this knows, riding horses does not pay. You can also bid on items. The prices are well below retail. Planning ahead for gifts throughout the year will help not only your own awareness of Courtney’s strivings to regain her life, but also of the good fortune of your loved ones.
Currently the store has 12 Troxel Reliance Dressage helmets (that normally retail for $159.95) up for grabs with a minimum bid of only $50. The helmet safety campaign t-shirts are also now available in the store for $22.75. These were designed with a very catchy slogan “Strap One On – Everyone’s Doing It” by single mom and dressage rider Jeri Bryant of CA in order to help support Courtney.
Lendon Gray said yesterday that Courtney is making excellent progress. This is very encouraging, but the road to recovery will be a very long one, with lots of physical therapy and specialized rehab. Run solely by Lyndsey White of SUCCEED for no personal gain, the eBay store aims to hit the $10,000 profit mark before the end of this month. That will go a long way toward helping Courtney in her marathon for recovery.