Suffering Connects Us All

Kristin Neva avatar

by Kristin Neva |

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“So tell us your story,” we often ask people who come to help with Todd’s care.

Those who show particularly deep compassion tend to have their own story of suffering, or they’ve loved and cared for someone who suffered. A stage IV cancer survivor. A disabled parent. A sibling who died.

You don’t have to dig deep to find that the best charitable organizations were founded by people who’ve experienced loss.

A few years ago, a tragedy struck our community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Two men and a boy never returned from fishing on Lake Superior.

On Sept. 17, 2016, Keith Karvonen, 61, Steven Chartre, 41, and Chartre’s 9-year-old son, Ethan, set out on the big lake on a 16-foot boat.

Their families reported them missing that evening.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Michigan State Police searched by land, water, and air. Local law enforcement joined the effort, along with the Canadian Coast Guard, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Police, and many individuals. Our community waited and prayed.

After four days and a search that covered 14,000 square miles, Keith, Steven, and Ethan were presumed drowned.

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But the families needed to know for sure, so Bruce’s Legacy came to help.

Bruce’s Legacy is a nonprofit search-and-recovery organization started by a man who lost his brother, Bruce Cormican.

Bruce was a firefighter who received a call about a drowning victim. A man and his daughters had been canoeing when they fell into a flooded river. The daughters survived, but their father perished. Bruce died in his attempt to recover the body.

His brother started Bruce’s Legacy in his honor. He purchased the best equipment he could find to help other families get closure.

Using advanced sonar equipment, volunteers from Bruce’s Legacy found Keith Karvonen’s boat in Lake Superior and recovered the bodies in 280 feet of water.

Years before, Bruce had compassion for a grieving family. Bruce’s death resulted in his brother having compassion for the families of the lost Lake Superior fishermen. And one of the people who has helped with Todd’s care is the sister of Keith Karvonen, one of the men who drowned.

Suffering connects us all.

When we suffer, our hearts are joined to other people who are suffering. When we suffer with someone, we develop compassion. That’s where the word compassion comes from — Latin for “with suffering.”

When life is going as planned, we can become arrogant and pin others’ misfortunes on poor choices. We can think that we’re healthy because of our diet or exercise routine. We can think we’re financially secure because we’re hardworking and intelligent.

However, life sometimes gets in the way. We get sick through no fault of our own. We lose a job in a down economy. We have an accident. In those times, we need people to come alongside us.

Shortly after Todd’s ALS diagnosis, when I was feeling overwhelmed by our future, I sought out my Aunt Phyllis’ advice.

Why her? Because she lived with my uncle for years after he became disabled by a stroke. I knew she would get it. She was one of my biggest emotional supports because of what she had been through.

Several years later, she was diagnosed with cancer. As I sat with her and sang hymns to her in her final days, she told me that my presence was comforting.

I’m thankful that I was able to be with her. I also recognize that my knowing how to be with and sit with her was born out of my own grief.

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Comments

SIM WORTHAM avatar

SIM WORTHAM

There is a cure for this decease but will all should understand that there is no money in curing it. I'm a veteran and this country doesn't care about us. #95Bravo

Reply
Michelle Osuski avatar

Michelle Osuski

When I was in Mayo clinic. They told me that I was to old for some of their studies. So I felt our lives don't count.

Reply
Dan D Montgomery avatar

Dan D Montgomery

~Dreams Flame Out~

Watchin' my dreams flame out
As clinical trial requests get turned down
I'm so on fire this ALS hurts like hell
And all hope just flames out

Just watchin' a river run
Down this IV tube into my vein
It's almost like it's cryin' my tears
I had the world on a string
And then I lost everything
That's how I wound up here

Watchin' my dreams flame out
As clinical trial requests get turned down
There's nothing left but an empty heart now
It's all memories now
Smokin' memories that ain't nothin' but ashes
In these no cure low lights
It's done me wrong and I can't get it right
I'm so on fire this ALS hurts like hell
As all my dreams just flame out

If you put your hands into the ALS flame
You've got no right to complain
'Cause you know it's gonna leave a mark
When the glow comes to an end
Like scattered embers in the wind
Means you're still lookin' for a brand new spark

Watchin' my dreams flame out

♫♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪♫♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪

Clinical trials I cant get
I'm gonna quit
But who am I kiddin' I just can't lay down
So I keep hangin' around

Watchin' my dreams flame out
As clinical trial requests get turned down
There's nothing left but this empty heart now
It's all memories now
Smokin' memories that ain't nothin' but ashes
In the no cure low lights
It's done me wrong and I can't get it right
I'm so on fire this ALS hurts like hell
As all my dreams just flame out
I'm so on fire this ALS hurts like hell
As all my dreams just flame out

Reply

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