This is hysterical. Seriously. Check it.
This morning on the way to take Will to school, a Lincoln Town car pulled out into an intersection and nailed the guy driving right in front of me, who was in a Saturn. I was only about three car lengths behind the guy, and I had to slam on my brakes to not skid into the wreckage. Had the town car pulled out two seconds later, he would have hit me. Everyone was okay, although the older couple in the Lincoln were rather frail anyway, so the ambulance came. Both cars were totaled, and yet somehow, none of the airbags went off. I guess because of the angle, but it makes you wonder. I pulled over immediately and called 911, stayed until the cops showed up, then took Will on to school and came back to give a statement. He didn't really understand what was happening, just that Hey! Firetrucks! Ambulance! Cool!
I have now been witness to three car wrecks where someone was injured enough to warrant an ambulance trip, but nothing life-threatening. All three happened because someone misjudged or didn't see a car and pulled directly out into traffic, hitting someone who was minding their own business, just driving down a street in which they had total right-of-way.
Each time, I see it all unfold in slow motion, I am powerless to stop it. But I have the power to help. I always stop. I have no emergency skills to speak of, except maybe that I am very calm in these situations, and blood does not freak me out. I can stop and offer my cellphone, or a tissue to hold over the cuts, or my passenger seat to sit comfortably while waiting for help.
Later, after I finally arrived at work, I got a call from a friend from church. Our friends with the brand new baby are at the children's hospital, the baby has meningitis. I am powerless, again. There's nothing I can do, except bring food. I took them dinner tonight at the hospital.
Tonight as we put the boys to bed, I went to tell Drew time to put the book down, and turn off the light. He was curled up in bed, crying softly, clutching his picture of Ben, the one I scanned and posted the day he died. I slipped in next to him and snuggled up, and we talked about it a little. I think it just hit him, tonight, that Ben is gone. The kids hadn't seen him for months, he hadn't been strong enough to be outside, so it doesn't surprise me that it took a while to hit Drew that he'd died. He said, "Mom, why did they have a party when Ben died?" So I explained that sometimes we like to get together and celebrate the good times when someone dies, that it helps us to not be so sad. He didn't seem to be buying it, and finally he asked to be left alone so I slunk out of the bed and kissed him goodnight.
I can snuggle with him until the end of days, but I cannot make him understand. I can't help him grieve. I am powerless to end his sadness. I can just be there, for when he needs me.
I recently finished Kate Braestrup's book, Here if You Need Me. She's a quirky writer, with an even quirkier story - after her police officer husband died in a car accident leaving her with four young kids, she went to seminary school as a way to grieve, and ended up a Chaplain with the Maine Fish and Wildlife Service. Like I said, quirky. But the story was fantastic, and I sucked it up in just a few nights. And tonight, after a day like this, I think I really understand her message.
Bad things happen. Children wander off in the woods, and fall through thin ice. Decorated police officers with four kids die in car accidents. Monsters kidnap teenage girls in parking lots and murder them. Friends die of cancer. We are powerless to stop the bad things that happen in this world. God is not found in the bad things. God is in the love that comes next. He's in the neighbors who bring food, and the rescuers who search. He is in the snuggle. That is our power.
So, yeah. That's pretty much all I have to say about that. I'd take a picture for you but, you know, the camera is IN THE PHONE.
Somehow, I don't think the folks at the Verizon store are going to be as nice as Amy found the guys at the Genius Bar to be.
Will wrote a poem at school today, its pretty telling, I think:
I laughed out loud. We've all been sick the last few days, I thought it was allergies but the truth is I've had such a bad cold I can hardly stand myself. I think my husband kept hoping I'd be feeling a little frisky, since I spent so much of the weekend lying in bed, but its kind of hard to be sexy with Mentholatum smeared across your face.
Drew has the cold too. Yesterday we had people over to watch the Chiefs game (bah, I don't want to talk about it!) and he sat on my lap quietly and my neighbor commented she'd never seen him SO CALM. So yeah, only because he was sick. Oh well, it was nice to snuggle with him anyway. I don't get much of that these days.
Thanks to someone else's bright idea to post a list of searches to their blog, (I think it was MamaLikey, actually) I started keeping track a while ago. Here's the basic list. Keep in mind this does not include the 5-10 hits PER DAY I get of people searching for variations of the title of this blog. It also doesn't include all the hits I've gotten recently regarding my little friend Ben, about which I did not expect and am still not entirely sure how I feel.
Anyway, I give you, google search insanity. The last one is the doozy. Around my house, that might be grounds for divorce.
Webshots College Girls Wearing Thongs Pictures
hey pot this is kettle you're black phoebe
jot notes on much ado about nothing
tales of a forth grade nobody
TRACY'S ANNUAL KARATE TOURNAMENT
Dorothy and Toto not in Kansas
lets get it stared black eyed pears
Christmas Figures Mellocreme Candy
mad housewife wine
Aren't there any Chuckie Cheese or Major Magics around anymore
how toto pee on the road
childrens birthday party kansas city three yr old
hey toto i think we are back in Kansas
take your dog to work pictures
i set my alarm on my treo 700w and it didn't go off til later
complete sentences with anymore
t shirt we are not in kansas anymore
dog bleeding ulcer jerky
nail polish remover ate through the laptop
Whew. What a week. Its been a helluva a week my friends. I don't even really know where to start. I guess, for chronological purposes, I'll start at last Tuesday, one week ago today.
TUESDAY: While watching Drew at soccer practice, Will falls off the monkey bars, and lands on his arm. I of course do not actually see this happen, as I am a bad mommy and let my kid get more than five feet away from me on the playground while I visit with other mommies somewhere off in the distance, under the only shade tree for miles. Due to the screaming that continues after the first minute, we fear it might be broken, since surely this little Bonzai's luck is running out. My husband and I proceed to argue about whether or not is truly necessary to go to the emergency room and have it x-rayed, rather than wait and hit the pediatrician's office in the morning. Just guess who was arguing which side. I pretty much tell husband he can suck it, THIS IS NOT THE KID WHO CRIES, SOMETHING IS DEFINITELY WRONG.
Will and I spend two hours in the emergency room at Children's Mercy Hospital. By the time we get to radiology, he's so taken by the giant glowing camera and the lead loincloth they place in his lap to protect his future little swimmers that he forgets his elbow hurts and lets the radiologist position it for the x-ray. I sigh heavily. The elbow is not broken, just badly sprained. Dammit. I consider asking them to cast it anyway.
WEDNESDAY: Will goes to school with a splint and a sling. He thinks he's a Rockstar. We land a new assignment at work, which is exciting, yes, but suddenly we are so busy its hard to breath. I stay up late on the laptop trying to organize Drew's Cub Scouts activities for the year. My husband digs through the clean laundry basket(s) mumbling something about underwear and when did I just decide to start shirking all my domestic duties. I ignore him, since I really don't know what he's talking about.
Also Wednesday, I realize I am maybe over-committed in about three different directions.
THURSDAY: I take Will in to see his regular pediatrician to follow up on the arm. Its still sore to the touch and to straighten all the way. She fears it may actually be broken way up in the elbow where it might not have showed up on the x-ray due to swelling. Keep it splinted and wrapped, she says, and if its still sore in a week, we'll want to x-ray it again just to make sure. From inside my wallet, I can hear my insurance card ask me to please cut it up and send it back.
FRIDAY: Ben passes on. Everyone around us, ourselves included, start dropping everything absolutely possible to focus on supporting his family. My work email starts acting finicky.
SATURDAY: Drew has soccer pictures, a soccer game, and a sleepover birthday party. Will also gets a sleepover invitation. My husband and I go out on a date (what a concept!), and end up at Tassos. OPA!
SUNDAY: Church, lunch with my brother to pick up and babysit my niece for the day, hit the Kansas City Zoo, and another soccer game at 5pm. Reception at Ben's house, where my 18-month old niece is a big, happy, smiling, relief offering hit.
MONDAY: My work email continues to have "issues". Work a full day, grab the kids from school and feed them an early dinner, put clean but not pressed clothes on them, (remember they've been wadded up in the laundry basket for a week - if I can't even fold the laundry, you think I'm going to iron it?) and attend a very sweet, kid-friendly memorial service for Ben. Manage to hold it together fairly well, since the kids are right there. Drop husband and boys back off at home and head to church for a meeting. After the meeting, I go sit in the sanctuary alone, in the quiet, and relax my shoulders for a minute. I feel safe there. So unbelievably safe. As soon as I think this thought, immediately my hands start shaking and the sobs bubble up like vomit, I cannot stop them. I sit there there and gasp and heave for about ten minutes. I feel a lot better. Hit the grocery store on the way home. Ignore laundry, again.
TUESDAY: Work email has had a full on embolism. Which is fine because we are at the funeral all morning, anyway, a full Catholic mass. Reception afterward. Go home, try and work from the laptop while fixing a dinner to take to a friend. The payoff is getting to snuggle with a four-week old lovemuffin who is still smaller than either of my kids were, at birth.
Feed the kids, send Drew off to soccer practice without any soccer socks to fit over his shin guards. Can only find one sock. Load Will up and head to Target to buy soccer socks, and some new dog toys.
Come home, drink wine, run a load of laundry, and dump it back in the clean basket, on top of the older stuff which still needs folding. Tomorrow is another day.
Cat Stevens, Teaser and the Firecat
PS - I pull out Teaser and the Firecat whenever I'm melancholy, but not depressed. Its a great Take A Deep Breath kind of album, and I have turned to it when sad for as long as I can remember. My dad had it in his folkie collection of records. And yes, my dad kind of wanted to be a hippie. He was always just too damn pragamatic.
Good night, sweet boy. We love you, always.
Drew and our friend, Ben Cote, who has left us today for a better, brighter, and pain-free world, after a two year battle with cancer. He was eight years old.
Picture taken September 22, 2002.
Ben wanted to be a veterinarian, and loved to rescue animals. Please consider donating in his memory at www.waysidewaifs.org.
The other morning on the way to take Will to preschool I was stopped at a red light behind some kind of behemoth SUV, brand new and shiny black. I had no choice but to stare straight ahead at the backside of this vehicle, since it encapsulated my entire forward landscape, and I came to focus on the cute little white stick figures of her family stickered to her back window. It kind of looked like this:
(which, by the way, paranoid, much? they wouldn't let me copy the image itself, I wouldn't NOT give them credit anyway, that's kind of my point here, hello. Be nice, don't steal.)
Anyhoo, what struck me was not the little white people outlines which I see everywhere, and which annoy me on a whole different level for its cutesyness.
(I should mention that the trend for this started as part of the Bad Boy Club in the 80's, and has somehow evolved to be the soccermom standard of today, that broken glass/soccerball decal is SO last year. Remember Calvin (sans Hobbs, usually) peeing on Jeff Gordon's car? And then when Dale died Calvin praying for the Number 3 car? Anyone? Bueller?)
What actually struck me was the bible verse quoted underneath, with the Book and passage number following. And the reason it struck me as interesting, my friends, is because right about that time the light changed to green and she charged through the intersection like an elephant, cut a hard right to veer over into the right hand lane and cut off some poor guy just trying to drink his Starbucks before getting into the office, and now his lap will never be the same.
No I am not making that story up just because I hate Christians. I am one, remember? This really happened.
But I am seriously struck by this need some people have to advertising something which is supposed to be so good, and yet they don't seem the realize that their behavior doesn't exactly live it. These are the people who don't understand why Christians in America have a bad reputation, overall. Or maybe they don't even care, since they're going to be raptured and all those other screwballs are going to get left behind.
You know those stickers some people have, with the big letter W and underneath it says "the President"? Like this:
I kind of want to have one made that says W. Whatever. But that's a different post.
Anyway, this past weekend while we were in Alabama to visit my husband's family I saw one that said "G. The Creator." Again, on a giant SUV, driven by a mom. A nice mom, she didn't cut anyone off in traffic anyway, but still. I can't find an online image of it, so it must have been one she had made personally. Again, my question is why is the fact that you are a Christian something you need to announce on your car? Bumper stickers are supposed to be fun. My old favorite "visualize Swirled Peas" for example. But the people who sticker their car to let everyone know they are Christians don't usually appear to have much of a sense of humor.
I think its because these people see their religion as a status symbol, in the same way they do their gigantic, gas guzzling, DVD playing trucks. This is Christianity in Middle Class, white bread America. A status symbol.
I think this is a fundamental PR problem that we have got to start dealing with if we are truly intend on turning the tide within our churches, and spreading the message of the love of Jesus Christ. Otherwise we are all just idolizing, and I seem to remember that's a big problem for Him.
(Disclaimer: People who know me are going to call bullshit on me, because I have a TCU (Texas Christian University) alumni sticker on my car. But, A. I drive a minivan, not a Suburban, its way more practical, and B. I actually went to school there. I don't think its the same thing. We didn't exactly party like Christians when we were there, its just a college like any other. There was maybe just a higher percentage of kids who dragged their hungover butts to church Sunday morning, is all. I also have a license plate which says MAYHEM, which I'm sure throws the fundies for a loop. I'm just sticking this part in here like the guys at Motley Fool do whenever they discuss a stock they actually own. Nyah.)
Why doesn't it make more sense to let people know you are a Christian by the way in which you treat others? The song ends, after all,
They will know we are Christians
By our Love, by our Love
They will know
We are Christians
By our Love.
I try to consider this in the actions that I take, daily. I'm not very good at it. I kind of suck at it, actually. But I make an effort. I hope that counts.