Thursday, May 22, 2008

Near Misses

The past month has been chock full o' mostly normal stuff for my family. Taxing enough to keep me away from blogging for awhile, but nothing remotely crisis-like. Yet streaking past my windows are a series of red-hot comets of doom and despair. Disasters for others, near misses for us.

First, that horrible earthquake in China. The news reports of broken schools and buried children are too much for me as the parent of small kids. Add in that I live one street away from a major fault line in the Bay Area, and I can't help but cross myself and pray hard for everyone in Asia impacted by that quake.

There are also the smaller, more personal difficulties of friends. First, I fear one of my best friends is sinking into the world of secondary infertility. Her first pregnancy came at age 36 and resulted in a healthy baby (delivered vaginally and drug free, just for icing on the whole pregnancy cake). But after a year of trying for baby #2 unsuccessfully, I can see her confidence eroding. Her smile stretches too tight when news of other people's easy pregnancies come up. She just got a referral to a fertility specialist from her OB, but she hasn't filled it yet. I don't think she's quite ready to accept that what came so easily before is no longer easy. She's hoping a few more months of trying without intervention will work out. And for her sake, so do I.

Then there is the elderly couple next door. The other day I came upon the man bent over his push mower awkwardly. I was ready to jump the fence and check his pulse, but suddenly realized he was crying. "My son," he choked. His 43 year old son just received a diagnosis of malignant melanoma the night before. The biopsy alone left 30 stitches, and more surgery and radiation await. It doesn't look good.

My neighbor's son has a six-year-old boy. Which reminds me of another comet that streaked by: A good friend (the best man at my wedding, actually) just lost his only sister to cancer. Holly was 35, and is also survived by a six-year-old son.

So, near misses. They remind me that I should grab that bottle of bubbly and celebrate the days where wiping noses, dirty laundry, and work-related annoyances are all that occupies my mind. Whoo-hoo, good times! But they also remind me that when you're in a stronger place, you ought to reach out to others who are under siege.

Which leads to a question: What are some practical, little things that a friend or neighbor can do to let someone know they care? I know I could go the card route, but really, I was aiming for something noncommercial and more personal. Is saying it with home-baked pie ok? Something else? Everything I come up with seems so small and ridiculous in comparison to what has happened. Suggestions greatly appreciated!


Antigone said...

In the aftermath, a few of my neighbors reached out to me. And it meant so incredibly much. Just knowing that someone cares, just having a sense of community can make the burden a little easier. So whatever you do, just reaching out will help. I think the homemade pie idea is wonderful.

Julia said...

It may be small, but it is not ridiculous. I remember vividly appreciating little things because they were so unpretentious and so genuine. Pie is good. Moving your neighbor's lawn one week is probably good too if that would give him time to do something for/with his son or grandson. If you know the kids in either case, and if they live close enough, offering a playdate might be a good thing-- it might help the kid, if only momentarily, and it would offer the parent(s) some time to themselves-- for coffee, sleeping, or crying. You know, whatever they need.

I am still so shaken by the stories out of China. And I have heard more than once in the last week how the fault line in CA is going to give sometime, and what they are doing to prepare. A block away? This is now personal...

Beruriah said...

Food is good. So are household tasks, but definitely food. We are helpless in these situations to do much of anything more than ease mundane stresses.

That faultline, yikes, Wabi. Yikes.

Wabi said...

Since people aren't saying that pie would be an affront to human dignity, I guess Big A and I will get to it...

As for the earthquake fault, I'm obviously not thrilled about it. News about the quake in China always sends me down to the basement to check on the expiration dates of key items in our earthquake survival kit. But then I go out for a walk on the gorgeous hills that surround my house (brought to us courtesy of plate tectonics) and I think "Well, I could also get mowed down by a tornado in the Midwest." So I guess I've picked my poison. For better or worse, I've picked it.