Support Claire to Support Chris

$15,050 of $13,500 goal

Raised by 110 people in 21 months
Created June 15, 2017

Our dear friends Claire Ricci and Chris Bernauer have literally been in the fight of a lifetime. In August, 2015, Chris had a major stroke and he has been in acute or subacute care since then, on and off a ventilator and literally fighting 24/7 to move, breathe and speak.

Claire has been at his side almost every waking moment, which means she rents a room in an Airbnb in Alameda to be near Chris while still keeping their home in Cotati; a home they hope to return to. She is been absolutely essential to Chris's ability to hang on and make progress toward recovery.

At this point, expenses beyond what insurance and Medi-Cal cover are threatening to drain what's left of their savings.

We are hoping our communities can step in and give them a boost--to help cover living expenses for Claire, to keep her close and let her continue to give Chris her full attention and the best chance at recovery. Let’s help give them what they both want most--a chance for Chris to move back home with her, reunite them with their beloved dog Rocket, and provide sarcastic commentary and hilarious sidebars.

Chris has made huge strides in the last few weeks, after a recent move to a new sub-acute facility. The next several months could be a critical time to help him breathe on his own and prepare to move toward a more independent living situation.

We are hoping to raise a pool of $10,000 which will help support Claire to stay close for the next several months while longer term options are assessed.

Claire has given beyond what seems possible out of her sheer determination to walk Chris back from the edge and back into the lives they built together. Let's do what we can to help keep her close, help him to heal, and see our friends live their best lives together.

If you can't give money, cards and support are welcome for Chris and Claire in Alameda. You can write to them at PO 1265 Alameda,CA 94502.

Feel free to message us here for Claire's cell phone or other ways to support or get in touch.

Eternal thanks for all your support,

Lisa, Anne, Alison, and Tracy

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Dear friends.

WOW--together, we have raised $14,000! We updated our goal, and now we have overshot that. To say this is life changing for Chris and Claire is an understatement..but I don't know what else to say. We remain moved by the spirit of this community. Thank you all for giving, sharing, sending Claire and Chris messages of support, and then doing it all again.

Alison, Anne, Tracy and Lisa

Here is a note from Claire:

A big fat THANK YOU to all of you. I am so touched and humbled by your great giving.

It is hard to put into words how this all makes me feel. The money is profoundly helpful, a huge breath of hope, and there is something more. In a world that can feel so wickedly isolating this has been a welcome flood of love.

A few days ago, Chris was able to eat for the very first time. A quarter cup of vanilla yogurt. It was magical to watch this happen. He has been working on this for such a long time, and suddenly there it was.

It was like watching an athlete cross the finish line. Hope lives.

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A note from Claire:

I am sitting outside with Chris on the hospital balcony. This is Chris's favorite place. It's peaceful out here, and there are the common sounds of cars, barking dogs, and planes. Trees rustle and gulls screech as they pass. I hear these sounds every day, but for Chris they are delights. The sounds of life.
Coming out on the patio in your wheelchair requires an escort familiar with all the medical interventions you might need. Portable suction machines and monitors when necessary travel along. Usually this means a nurse, but I am a fixture here, and now they trust me to be the escort. What is really great is we get to be alone together.

 Tomorrow on the street below there will be a parade, celebrating Independence Day.
 Independence, this has been the Holy Grail. Being able to move yourself freely toward your destiny.
I've been reading a book called the "Hidden life of Trees." It's written by a forester who spent so much time in a forest in Germany he came to understand trees not as competitors for limited resources who need to spaced apart, but as members of a community relying on each member for longevity and strength, and faring much better when they worked in league.
"Every tree is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time perhaps it will be the other way around, and the supporting tree be the one in need of assistance."
I’m reconsidering independence thorough the lens of interdependence, more a collaborative endeavor.  Reaching towards our destinies juiced up by creating that environment for others, stronger and more courageous knowing the same flows back to us.
I think it was the GoFundMe campaign that got me thinking about this. The community of people that’s come forward to support Chris and me is so much bigger and broader than imagined it could be. I’ve been stunned by the flowing of support from so many chapters of our lives, and from some who have never met us.

My vision had been fearfully small.  This experience sparked a delight in me imagining myself being able to lift up others up ahead.
Here is to the independence of connection and the love and support that flows back and forth.

Chris. A while ago. And so good to see.
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Dear friends.

Here is an update from Claire. She posted it on Facebook and said I could share it here.

I just wanted to say thanks
When I was learning to kayak I was scared most of time. I loved the action, but hated being so exposed to the possibility of being breathless under water, and unable to surface. This fear frequently kept me on the shore.
My friend Barry was an ass-kicking boater. He would cajole me into the water promising to rescue me if necessary. He had a move he called “the hand of God.” If I flipped upside down in my boat unable to right myself he would hi-tale it over to me and flip me back up with his bare hands. No matter how crazy the water, he showed up. I trusted him.

Paddling with Barry, I was braver, more willing to stretch toward the edges of my abilities. I was more committed to my moves, which is the key to staying upright in a kayak.

Mile-by-mile I began to find my way.

I’ve thought a lot about this these past months with Chris. I’m not comfortable with “hand of God” comparisons, but I know how it feels to be certain you’re backed up. To know that someone truly has eyes on you whatever the circumstances.

For Chris the daily vulnerabilities are great, to wake up and participate in the day takes more courage than any paddle I’ve done.

Everyday I ask Chris to rise, to leave the distant cocoon so many of his fellow patients spend their time in. I cajole him into the current, and he moves in, pushing what he imagines are his limits. Mile-by mile his is finding his way.

This is why I keep showing up every day, and getting in my own boat. This is why I’ve been intent on staying here in Alameda.

So, this is a long winded to saying thank you for making it possible for me to keep doing what I’m doing, and for him to keep stretching. Thank you for easing this worry. I feel inept at expressing what it means to have received this outpouring of care, of cheering, of believing.

I told Chris about all this today, he raised his eyebrows as he always did when something unexpectedly good happened.

Thanks and love from the both of us.
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Thank you all so much! We have 39 donations totaling almost $3,400! Claire and Chris are feeling the love. Claire's living situation in Alameda is safe through Labor Day. They are so grateful.

If you can, think of one friend who might know them but not have seen this yet, and reach out! When you are friends with a bunch of boaters and guides, and it's June and 4,000 degrees, folks may be on the water or in the woods.

We are hoping to get to 10k, which i think would provide a good base to help them get through the end of the year and feel like they can be ready for what's next. Anything you can do to help is much appreciated!

Anne, Tracy, Alison, Lisa
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$15,050 of $13,500 goal

Raised by 110 people in 21 months
Created June 15, 2017
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