What you are about to read is perhaps the most heartbreaking story that I have ever come across. It is so tragic that I am not even quite sure how to introduce it. Some time ago, a reader named Ashley sent me an email that described the nightmare that she has been living through over the past year. Ashley's email was very different from the vast majority of emails I usually receive, and I wrote her back right away and asked her some questions. One of the most important questions I asked was whether or not she really wanted me to share her story with the public. Privacy is such a precious thing, and I wanted her to understand that if I shared her story that thousands upon thousands of people would end up seeing it. After considering what I had to say, Ashley said that she was 100% sure that I should share her story because she felt that it could really help some people.
Sometimes it can be really easy to get lost in the economic numbers and to forget that this economy is really and truly destroying lives. The truth is that there are millions of Americans out there today that are hurting just like Ashley is. Her story is more dramatic than most, but that doesn't mean that we all don't know someone that could use our help. We have lost our sense of community in America, and thousands upon thousands of people like Ashley are falling through the cracks.
I cannot even imagine going through the things that Ashley has had to go through over the past year. If you think about it, please say a prayer for her. Also, let this story be an inspiration to all of us to stop being so cold-hearted and to help out those in need that are all around us.
The following is Ashley's story as told in her own words....
My name is Ashley. I live in Upstate New York I have been reading your Economic Collapse blog for the past year. Everything that you have said is true. Our economy is dying, and the economic collapse has destroyed the lives of many, many people. I should know. I am one of them. I lost my house, my car, my feet and my father, all in just seven months.
My father and I had a great life together. He raised me as a single parent. My mother died while giving birth to me. So it was just him and me as I was growing up, and things were wonderful for us, but then everything changed.
In September of 2009, my father was laid off from his job after 26 years. He tried so hard to find another job, but he just couldn't get one. The economy was too horrible. As a result of the loss of income, he was unable to continue making the mortgage and car payments. Our car was repossessed, and not long after that, the bank foreclosed on us and we lost our house.
We moved into a low rent, hole in the wall apartment and lived off of his savings and his unemployment benefits for the next few months. Finally, in December of 2009, I was lucky enough to get a part time job at a pizza place. It was a really long walk from our apartment, but we needed the money badly. So I took the job.
By mid winter, my old snow boots, which had successfully lasted me through several terrible winters, were beginning to rapidly deteriorate. They had holes all over them and they were splitting at the seams. My feet were soaked and freezing all day long. At that point, we were lucky to have food on the table. We had to watch every penny. We couldn't afford to get me new boots. So I had to make do with the ones I had. My father worked feverishly to try and repair them. He spent hours supergluing them duct taping them. In addition to that, I doubled up on socks and wore plastic bags inside my boots, but nothing did any good. My feet still got drenched.
One morning, in mid February of 2010, I took the last walk I would ever take on my own two feet. There was a huge blizzard raging outside, but we couldn't afford to lose a day's worth of pay. So I ventured out into the blizzard and made the long trudge to work anyway. As usual, my feet were drenched and freezing within minutes of leaving my apartment, but there was no choice but to just stick it out. So I kept going. I finally arrived at work to find the place closed. Nobody had called to tell me. There was nothing to do but turn around and make the long trudge back home. By the time I got home, I knew that something was seriously wrong with my feet. They felt horrible. My father helped me out of my drenched boots and socks and we discovered that my feet were all purple and swollen. They were severely frostbitten.
My father was terrified to take me to the emergency room because that would have bankrupted us. So he did everything he could to try and rewarm my feet at home. He spent the next several days giving me hot chocolate, bundling my feet up in blankets, putting my feet on his stomach, etc. But nothing did any good. My feet didn't get any better. They just kept getting worse. They eventually turned black and began to ooze. At that point, my father broke down and called a car service to take us to the hospital. The doctors told us that, given the extent of the damage, they would not able to save my feet. The frostbite had progressed too far. I ended up having both of my feet amputated.
For the next whole month, my father didn't do anything but sob. He sobbed himself to sleep every night. He blamed himself for me losing my feet. I rolled myself into his room on my wheelchair every night and wrapped my arms around him as tight as I could. I told him that it wasn't his fault and that I didn't blame him for anything. I told him he was the best father any girl could ever have and that I wouldn't trade him for anything. I think it helped a little in the moment, but as time went on, he just fell further and further into depression.
On the morning of March 15th, 2010, I was awakened by a knock on the door from a police officer. He told me that my father was dead. I told the officer that was ridiculous and that there had been a mistake, but he insisted that my father was dead and that I should come with him. I went racing into my father's room as fast as my wheelchair could carry me, but he was gone. There was a note on his bed that he had left for me. In the note, he told me that he loved me dearly. He loved me more than anything, but that he had failed me. He told me that I would be better off without him. At that moment, my heart stopped as I began to realize what must have happened. Horrified, I made my way back to the police officer, and he told me that my father had jumped out the window of our apartment in the middle of the night. I went into shock and begged the police officer to let me see him, but he insisted that I wouldn't want to see him that way. I started sobbing so hard that the police ended up having to take me to the hospital.
I've cried myself to sleep every night since. I'll never understand how my father could have thought that I'd be better off without him. If only he had known how much I needed him. If it wasn't for my extremely kind hearted and caring neighbor, I don't know where I would be right now. She's such a sweet lady. After I lost my father, she took me in and took care of me as though I were her own family. She has gradually helped nurse me back to health, both physically and mentally.
This is probably going to sound really crazy, but throughout this past year, you have been one of my heroes, Michael. As devastating as the truth of your words may be, it is refreshing that somebody has the good sense and the good judgement to come forward and say them. All the government and the media do is lie to us, every single day. I only wish more people would listen to you and heed your warnings. Feel free to post my story on your blog if you would like. You have my permission to do so. I just ask that you not reveal my full name and my email address. Just use my first name. Perhaps my story will serve some purpose in the way of helping to wake some of these idiots up and getting them to realize that this nightmare is real.