Wednesday, April 05, 2017

In which I try to find the words ...

Towards the end of last year, a Bad Thing happened to me and my family. It wasn't a Very, Very Bad Thing - no one died, we didn't lose our home or our income but, nevertheless, it was a Thing that caused us great pain and stress, and it rocked our faith in human nature.

I'm not going to go into detail here about the Thing, though I intend to at some point in order to warn others. The Thing was very negative and this post is the opposite of that. I won't allow it to taint this space. I don't like spreading negativity - there's more than enough of it online and in the real world - and so I haven't said anything in public about the Bad Thing before now. Only those closest to me knew about it.

At the lowest point in the last five months, I turned to G and said, 'I've always thought things happen for a reason. We're in the middle of this right now and have no perspective beyond it but a point will come when we'll look back and say, Ah, so that's what all that was about.'

How right I was, though I never expected the answer to come so soon and I could never, in my wildest dreams, have anticipated the form it would take. Without my knowledge, those few people who knew about the Thing - some of whom had never met each other - got together to start thinking about ways they could turn the Bad Thing around, support us in a practical way and, most importantly, restore our faith in human nature. They came up with an audacious plan to start a Crowdfunding campaign. Knowing me as they do, they agreed it was vital to keep the plan a secret from me because I would have vetoed it. Not because I'd be ungrateful (how could I possibly be?) but because the very idea would make me squirm with discomfort.

By the time I knew it was happening, donations were well into four figures. I sat staring at my laptop, struggling to breathe, trying to process what I was seeing. What had me gasping for breath the most was not so much the gob-smacking amount that had been raised but the comments people had left. I was reading the sorts of things usually said about someone after they've died, when everyone says what a shame it is that they never knew people cared so much for them. And here I was, alive and very much kicking, the recipient of an outpouring of love and generosity that knocked me sideways. I was way beyond my comfort zone and had no idea how I was supposed to be, or act, or even feel. Words - the raw material of my trade - escaped me or took refuge in cliché. The only way I could cope was to pretend it wasn't happening. I asked the inner circle to pass on a request not to link to me, while worrying that it might look like I was taking it all for granted. But the one thing I was certain about was that it was really important for me not to appear in any way as if I was soliciting on my own behalf.

By the end of the campaign, 171 people had donated, leaving comments that made my eyes stream and my heart soar. (See? Not possible without resorting to clichés.) Many chose to be anonymous and I will never know who they - you - are. I wanted to contact everyone and thank them personally but it felt somehow wrong when there were so many I can't identify.

So I hope no one will consider it lazy if I give a huge collective  
here to each and every one of you. Please imagine me looking into your eyes and holding your hands and telling you how you have touched my heart. I hope that everyone this applies to will see this at some point. 

One person was responsible for the Bad Thing. 171 of you have counter-balanced that negativity with a tidal wave of love. If life is all about making a difference, then you all win at life. And I win because I know all of you.

I think it's appropriate to end by quoting my dad. I once remarked when out with him that he always chatted with everyone he encountered: in shops, banks, on the street. 
      'I like to think that when I meet someone, they go away feeling a little better than before,' he replied. 

Thank you all for being like Daddy Alper.



MandyB said...

And lovely words they are too. 1 vs 171 says it all :-) xxxx

Moira said...

Ah that's so nice Debi. Glad that things have gone some way to making up for the crappy hand you were dealt. Life's a bugger sometimes, but what goes around comes around. So the kindness and generosity you have always shown to others has come back to help you. Conversely there is, I have absolutely no doubt, a HUGE pile of celestial Doo Doo heading towards an unscrupulous sod somewhere. How marvellous! Have fun and see you again soon xx

Katherine Hetzel said...

1 against 171... Much love to you x

Jan Jones said...

Much love, Debi. Always x

RichardB said...

Debi, two quotes from wildly different sources, but equally apposite.
The Bible: 'Give, and it shall be given unto you.'
The Beatles: 'And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.'
No further comment necessary.

John T said...

While we're quoting the Beatles, 'Here comes the sun' sounds about right. Wishing you and G sunshine, and a few more rays for all the community of people around you xxx

Janette Owen said...

Film quotes from me (sort of)
Firstly - no-one puts Debi in a corner.
Secondly, part of a song from one of my top favourite films:
We're your friends ...
When you're alone
Who comes around
To pluck you up
When you are down
And when you're outside, looking in
Who's there to open the door?
That's what friends are for!

Sandra Davies said...

Hadn't thought of the 1:171 perspective, Debi, but it's perfect. A huge measure of Good to outweigh, overwhelm, the Bad.

Brenda W said...

Loveky, Debi. Glad your faith is restored. Love to you. Brenda x

Catherine Cooper said...

You are certainly your daddy's daughter... it seems obvious to me that anyone who has ever met you has gone away 'feeling a little better than before.' I'm so glad you now feel a lot better than you did. x

Debi said...

You're all so lovely. I feel lucky/humbled/privileged/blessed and oh-so-very-happy that I know you all.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Well, you're only getting back what you always give out. xxx

Jane Shuff said...

I wasn't going to post because everybody has expressed how I feel so much better than I could. But your words about not spreading negativity have chimed with me. Bad things happen and they often leave us feeling powerless. Especially the kind of bad thing that I think happened to you. You are a very powerful person. In a very positive way. You touch many people and we all get nothing but good from it.

Clare Sudbery said...

That made me cry! But in a good way. :) :) :)

You deserve every bit of it.

Debi said...

In truth, I'm no saint and I can't pretend to have washed out all the negativity. It surged up again last night when I saw that the man responsible for causing so much pain (and we're not the only ones in this position) is currently enjoying an expensive holiday in India with his family. But each time the hate boils up in me again, I'm going to come back here, read the comments and keep chanting the mantra: 1 vs 171. 1 vs 171. 1 vs 171. xx

Rachael Dunlop said...

Well, I'd like to put all this lovely positivity to one side and wish a certain someone the worst case of Delhi Belly ever to befall a man.

Now I've got that off my chest, I'd like to say that the Good Thing has been good for all 171 of us. We've all been touched, though we didn't know it until now, with a little of Daddy Alper's magic positivity.

BRIC said...

What wonderful, gracious words, Debi. So happy that some good has come from bad.
You know I am no numerologist, but here's a strange coincidence.
In Brazilian Portuguese 171 (um-sete-um) is shorthand for scam or swindle after Article 171 of the Penal code - estelionato - aconfidence trick.

Debi said...

BRIC - that's amazing! There's more to this life than meets the eye.

While I'm here, can I just say I LOVE THE BLOOMIN' LOT OF YOU. xxx

Natalie Kleinman said...

In which you succeeded in finding the words:

It only needs someone to read your post, Debi, to know why you are so loved and admired. With people in the world like you and your friends, the person who did the Bad Thing will never win. It isn't for me to quantify what you lost against what you've gained but one thing is for'll never be alone. The person who did the Bad Thing may, or may not, but I don't care. You are the winner here because you have something he/she will never have. And we are the winners just by knowing you.

Much love

JA Griffiths said...

Aw! This is brilliant. JA x

Debi said...

My laptop died and I wasn't getting notifications for comments here. Seen them now. You've made me so happy, all of you. Shall we have a roaring chorus of Patti Smith? All together, everyone: Gloria! xx

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