Every now and then we face the things that put our trivial workaday complaints into perspective. More than every now and then, really. These things do not happen often, but neither are they rare. “Periodically” makes these things sound trivial. They’re not.
Today, in a hospital not far from here, a man says goodbye to a wife as another man waits for his wife to give birth to their second son. I’m not sure these two men even know about the plight of the other. And yet they know each other, call one another “friend” and both couples have shared dinners and momentous occasions together – each was at the other’s wedding. At this moment, they are separated by a few hundred feet. And yet in the space of a few feet and a few hours their lives travel down divergent and irreversible paths. One because of an untimely death. One because of a much-awaited birth.
I know them both. Was at both weddings. Have shared joy and disappointment with both. And am thinking of them both now as I sit at home, alone, knowing I can help neither. It’s a terrible feeling really. Helplessness. And I sometimes wonder how much of this feeling is driven by charity and how much by ego. How much of me – of any of us – wants to reach out because it’s the right thing to do and how much is it driven by wanting to be a part of whatever thing – joyous or tragic – is going on. The truth is, there is nothing I can do. The truth is that the only thing to do is call my husband and tell him I love him, go home and hug my dogs, make sure the children are safe and happy, cuddle up on the couch.
Its been a strange summer so far – not hot enough or slow enough to feel lazy and liberating. I don’t feel like skipping out early or taking a few hours to head to the beach. There is too much drama afoot. Too many marriages hanging in the balance, too many people out of work, too many decisions unmade. There are, of course, babies being born. Sig Other is healthy and working hard, the children are busy and happy. But unrest and unhappiness creeping in from all sides makes me simultaneously incredibly grateful and deeply anxious. I cannot rest – I must be diligent and stay the course lest I tempt fate. I must keep my head down – quietly barrel ahead and draw no attention from the evil eye. I am oddly superstitious for a cynical person and oddly Protestant for a Jew. And so I sit tonite and wait, and hope and I suppose in my own way I pray. I mutter the kaddish under my breath for a sweet woman gone too soon and sit by my email waiting for news of the birth of a baby.