Friday, October 16, 2009

Taking the Cure

Repeat after me--we are all God's children, we are all God's children, we are all God's children.

Keep going until you find the space in your heart to forgive, even if you don't believe in God. Or is it god then?

Since R died I've been working on regaining patience. Not the kind of patience that allows for peaceful browsing of supermarket tabloids while the little, old lady purchases 20 cans of cat food with pennies, the kind that allows me to meet people where they are.

"A hip replacement? How awful for your 90-year-old grandmother! Such a tragedy."

"A parking ticket. That sucks!"

"She made you revise the whole meeting agenda? What a crappy day!"

"Poor thing. I didn't know cats could get colds."

"Ugh! I can't imagine having two children. My one just wears me out."

The tiny pilot that lives in my head meets all of these minor complaints with a steely, unsympathetic gaze as I work desperately to remember the appropriate response. I can usually find the right words and make them come out of my mouth with the proper inflection but, it's work. It should come naturally.

After all, each one of us is a tiny little miracle--the journey-work of the stars as Uncle Walt would say.

I watch C defy gravity as she runs across the kitchen smiling my dad's smile and kicking T's too-short legs. A wonder of engineering. A pint-size family reunion. The culmination of generations of survivors.

I can't believe I made her. Cooked her up right inside my own body with nary a thought. Imagine building one (or two) in the garage.

8 billion+ miracles roaming around the planet with their triumphs and woes. That 90-year-old grandmother was once a bouncing baby, the apple of her mother's eye. That sick cat is a killing machine honed through millions of years of evolution. Who am I to feel like my daughters deserve some kind of special consideration?

On the other hand, maybe some of us more miraculous than others.

Last week I visited one of my best friends from college and her husband. They're expecting their first baby in early February and we wanted to pass along some essential equipment and check in.

Most parents-to-be are excited and nervous but mostly excited. These two had a distinct whiff of subdued terror that set off my spidey-sense.

Over the course of the afternoon my friend's husband recounted the hair-raising story of his own birth. I'll share an abridged version here to protect his privacy--rocky pregnancy, IUGR, low Apgar scores, 4 days in the NICU (in 1975), flatline, baptized by a nurse, last rites, full recovery.

A walking, talking miracle, ladies and gentlemen.

How many bona-fide miracles do I encounter every day? Since there's really no way of knowing, I should probably just give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

You don't have to travel far to meet people where they are if we're all in the same place.


  1. Ach Tracy. I find this sort of manoeuvring so, so difficult to pull off. To respond to other people's complaints respectfully. To remember that we are all God's children.
    It isn't always easy. Sometimes I just want to snap at them and say "you think you've got it hard, well LISTEN UP punk" and start spouting out the whole sorry tale. But that just isn't appropriate.
    My husband described it as the disaster scale. Before G died, we would probably have considered a parking ticket or a hip replacement a fairly high scoring complaint, say 8 out of 10. But when you lose a baby and have the juddering change of perspective that we have, well . . those kind of things don't even really register any more. Maybe a 1 or a 2.
    And I also want my daughters to be given special consideration. My mom was joking that Jessica will be graduating (knock on wood) and I'll be standing up waving a placard that says "1lb 7oz don't cha know". I wouldn't rule it out.
    And your C looks pretty damn miraculous to me. Sorry for rambling on. xo

  2. So well said!!! I remember when I would come across people (strangers) who would be so upset- drivers having road rage- people at a restaurant complaining to the poor waitress just doing her job... I remember wondering- I wonder if they just lost someone and just don't can't deal- I used to think like that- that we're all walking around with some pain that others don't understand- making excuses for others' bad behavior... don't know why I did that- but I did... I really liked your post though!
    Thanks for sharing!