It is understandable that we may not have time to fact check every story that pops up in the news. However, it is appalling that inflammatory or sensational stories are so readily and eagerly shared by people who are not the authors and have not taken the time to check the basic facts. As dismayed as slanted media makes me, I am more dismayed by the people willing to share stories that are more tabloid than news, more lies than truth. In an age of information, it is discourteous to pass on incorrect material – regardless of what political agenda you may think will benefit from a “bit of exaggeration.”
There are sorrows in life that one simply cannot avoid.
There are sorrows in life that through diligence can be avoided.
There are sorrows in life that arrive despite diligence.
When faced with sorrow, it is best to let the tears fall…
If prior to today, I was aware of Patriots’ Day then I must have blocked it from my mind. However, the moment I mentioned to my husband that Patriots’ Day is on April 19, he immediately said that was the date of the Oklahoma City Bombing, eighteen years ago. He was in Turkey on TDY, I was in Colorado feeling very anxious for his safety until it was determined that it was an act of home-grown not foreign-born terrorism. Of course, words can’t even describe how we both felt when Columbine occurred just a few years later. We had small children by then, and Columbine was not far from my husband’s childhood home. It was too real.
You would think that the middle of April would stand out in my mind for something other than taxes, but honestly I just don’t remember from year to year how our worlds were shaken in April. Unlike 9/11, the date just never stuck, at least not for me. While my world had been rocked, it hadn’t been disrupted like in 2001.
But now the Patriots’ Day will be stuck in my mind, and not as a day celebrating a crusade for independence. For the longest time the Boston Marathon had been a dream of my mom’s. Every year when it was held, especially in the years since she passed away, I would smile and remember the summers in the late-70s when she logged hundreds of miles preparing for qualifier races. She eventually made it to New York and we ran that race together, but life got in the way of Boston.
It is strange how the mind deals with tragic events, sometimes keeping the moments clear and focused , while other times blurring the details and dates. Yet, in either case, when a new tragedy occurs the emotions come flooding to the surface, overwhelming the senses.
Patriots’ Day will no longer just be a day on the calendar, and the Boston Marathon will no longer just be a race. It is my prayer that our nation will rise again and take back our day – refuse to surrender it to those wishing to bring us down.
It is also my prayer that all those who have been directly affected by the tragedies, past and present, will find peace and feel the support of their nation behind them.
A brief glance at the morning news feed indicated another tragedy but no details, so work resumed and ignorance was bliss. A return to Facebook a few hours later revealed the missing details of a terrible tragedy. My first desperate thought was of a friend who lived in Connecticut, a friend with small children. With breath caught in my chest, I quickly checked her profile, bursting into relief filled tears as I read her post declaring the safety of her family. She declared their safety with the simple statement, “I want to go pick up my children from school and hug them right now.”
As I was consumed with great relief another emotion tore at me – sorrow. Sorrow for the families who could not hug their children, not today or ever again in this lifetime. I felt so wretched with these conflicting emotions and sought comfort through hugging my own children. Truthfully, I think they hugged me for they are young and strong and I was so weak from shock and sorrow.
It does not take much for fatigue to overwhelm me. Sorrow certainly brings on fatigue. As I sought the solace of a nap, I prayed that upon awaking I would feel a measure of peace return. This picture greeted me as I returned to the world and left the protection of slumbers solitude behind. While I ache deeply for the parents who cannot hug their children, I feel peace knowing the children, young or old, are in His embrace.
Today the tragedy in Aurora, CO came too close to home. We feel isolated where we live, but Aurora is not so far. It is were my husband works. It is where we shop.
Today we learned that a young woman my son knows was wounded. We learned that most of his friends lost someone this week or are standing vigil for those hanging on to life.
My son was only a toddler when the Columbine shootings occurred. That tragedy could not touch him. He remembers clearly 9/11 even though he was young. But this horror has touched his world, and will change him.
We are the lucky ones, we hurt inside, but we were not in the nightmare. I ask you to please pray for those who were there that night, pray for their families and close friends, pray for their rescuers. Pray that their suffering is comforted, that the nightmare will fade and the healing will begin.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
King James Version of the Bible
Wednesday morning one of our outdoor cats caught a baby bunny. He knew he shouldn’t have as soon as he saw my daughter approaching, and he dropped his catch before taking off to hide. The bunny, a cottontail, was only a week or so old, eyes not yet open. His name is Pip since he has such a little squeak, and we knew it was unlikely he would survive.
We raise big, fluffy Angora Rabbits. They grow to be 7-10 pounds and are bigger than our cats. When they are born, they are tiny but no where near as tiny as Pip. The baby bottles we have used on the Angoras are bigger than Pip. Pip is as tiny as his squeak.
Pip did well on the first day, and there was hope. The danger for rabbits, baby rabbits especially, is that they will hop, or violently twitch, and break their backs. Hungry baby rabbits twitch and spasmaticly jump when they sense it is feeding time. Sadly, even with great care, they can harm themselves. Pip showed no signs of broken bones, and his back legs worked well.
By day two, Pip was actively eating. His belly would get large and then he would get sleepy. After a bit of cuddling, he would take his nap in his shoe box home, just feet from my desk.
Today has been a long day. The world is a crazy place. People we know, members of our community are hurting. Some are gratefully praying because their children changed theaters last night and were safe as dawn shed light on a tragedy. Others give long distant support to their children as friends in the hospitals are visited.
Today has been a very long day, and I sit here writing with Pip on my chest, knowing that his little body just can’t fight much longer. So I keep him near, praying the beat of my heart will give him comfort, knowing his life is in God’s hands. I knew when I held him on Wednesday that saving him was a long shot, but it is still better to try and fail the to never try at all.
Pip is such a little squeak, but he is God’s and the tears running down my face do not negate the blessing God has given me as I have cared for Pip. If Pip should live beyond today, it will be God’s will. If today Pip breaths his final breath, it too, will be God’s will.
Is there ever a time when sharing confidences, burdens, joys and adventures no longer require a grandmother’s ear or mother’s shoulder? Does the need for a mother’s embrace or a grandmother’s smile ever go out of style? Does one ever stop missing them once they are gone no matter how long it has been?
Husbands and children, sisters and brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends – the love of so many does not seem to fill the chasm left in one’s life after a mother is gone. Most days go by without mourning, but every so often your heart yearns to cry, “Mom, I miss you,” and your shoulders begin to quake and the tears begin to fall.
Do you ever stop missing your mom once your mom is gone? I think the answer is no…
Often the greatest burdens in life are also the greatest blessings, or result from the greatest blessings. Just like there is a fine line between genius and insanity, there is a fine line between burden and blessing. Hope for days more blessed than burdened, and remember without burdens life would be boring.
Growing up on a farm, I learned the hard lesson that an individual life can often be shorter than the average lifespan predicts.
The natural order of life and death must be faced on a regular basis when living on a farm. Our farm raised milk cows and so while I was fully aware of where our meat came from, I knew that the production of milk was the main goal. This meant keeping the animals healthy and alive for a long time.
My role in the business was aiding my mother in nurturing the young calves. My mom was a great nurturer of animals and had a phenomenal survival rate with her charges. At times she was even asked to guest speak for agricultural classes. So while I was exposed to death on the farm, I only directly faced it with the very weak or very old animals.
This pattern changed drastically during the summer of my fifteenth year when an unusual virus took the life of fifty percent of the animals born that summer. While we did everything we could to keep the feverish newborns alive, in the end the strange virus was just too destructive. By the end of that hot, grueling summer, death no longer seemed like something natural, but rather like a monster, unmerciful and unrelenting. A new comprehension that the natural order of life and death could be traumatic settled in my consciousness.
That year was my last to work on the farm; the world around me changed and I changed with it. Over the years, the trauma of that summer faded and was replaced with a greater understanding that there are worse things in life than death.
Now I am older, a mother with my own teenagers who have experienced the death of many family members in their youth. While to my children, these family members were old, a few had died before reaching the “average” lifespan and by most standards, were still too young to leave this life behind. I have tried to bring comfort to myself and teach my children that their grandmothers went to a better place; that their bodies had been worn out too soon, and that death brought an end to their suffering.
Just as the animals of my youth helped me face the realities of life and death and helped prepare me for the eventual death of family members, the animals of my children’s youth are teaching the same lessons. Like the summer of my fifteenth year when an unusual heat brought an unusual virus, this year has presented odd shifts in the weather bringing untimely deaths.
Winter is supposed to be cold. Animals grow extra hair to keep them warm during the winter, and unlike humans they can’t simply remove their coats when the temperature soars. Sadly older animals, animals with weaker constitutions, and the very young often don’t survive when the temperatures soar one day and drop the next. Sometimes human intervention can help, but often times an animal, seemingly healthy one day, will lie down in the night and will rise no more at the dawn. This is life and life is not predictable. Knowing the average lifespan was met, is not a comfort.
Rest in Peace Bean – you taught us much about angora rabbits, made us laugh at your antics, and left a healthy posterity to carry on in your absence. 9 Feb 2012