Written with permission.
Two weeks ago I bought a house. A home. A cottage where I could cartwheel from one end to the other in three “wheels” … if there was room. It was a worth-it grueling experience of months of the most bizarre errors by the first lender and insurance company made better by my realtor, new lender, friends and pictures from my kids. I thought I’d learned a lot. Then last Monday I got a message.
“Received a call from Madi’s teammate … Ambulance … will keep you posted asap.”
Okay. Okay 2020.
Okay, Al. Stay focused on what you can do (work).
Then, a little after 5 p.m., I learned that my 29-year-old daughter had had a stroke and was likely to have a second stroke.
Oh shit. Oh family … oh framily.
Suddenly, the spiffiness of the cottage, Shangri Lousch, didn’t much matter. Nor my weariness at moving – especially with all of the extraordinary help I had had. Nor much else, but my kids, their spouses, my sister and my framily – the people I love. I called on those people again – so soon after the move – and they came.
With quiet and the space I needed. A hug. Chipolte. A determination to fix the loo. Offers to do whatever they could. They prayed. They sat with me. They laughed. And through it all, the worst part has been the hours when – because of COVID – both Magpie and Zach were alone in their pain and worry.
Because of the love of my friends, I thought only once at the end of a very long day, “why does our family win this craptacular lottery so often?” The moment passed almost as soon as I voiced it and I was able to again, think on the people who were in the thick of it (and doing an incredible work of healing and communicating, etc).
I am not a saint. I had the modeling of so many loving and funny and steadfast people to follow. And my focus was good until … Thursday’s news. It was good news – Mag was headed home – and it undid me. My brain immediately fogged and all of the stress I had felt beneath the surface eased and I hurt all over my physical body and fell asleep almost before I got home.
So why write about this?
Because 2020 continues to strip away what is not important and shine big fat lights on what is – people.
Because so many of us face grief and grace that takes our breath away and tries to strip our energy and our ability to think. We need to recognize our humanity and the necessary … sweet imperfect humanness around us.
Because we also get to ask for help without feeling needy (still working on that one.)
Because we have made enough jokes about murder hornets, masks and dumbassery, that we may be a little too jaded for our own good. With Beirut, droughts across the globe, hungry and scared humans, communities in crisis, COVID and the every day ordinary and not-so-ordinary, let us remember to consider what is truly important.
A little louder for the folks in the back … PEOPLE are important … job #1.
Yes, education, environment, health and healthy economy are important. But people more so. And when loved and inspired, they can be activated to explore and solve all sorts of problems and dream all sorts of wonders – especially in community.
So this week, I have worried less about my pudgly belly and walked more – more upright. I have listened more than before, I think. Forgiven old hurts to reach out with fresh information. Treated myself with respect. Walked to Dairy Queen. Walked trails with the giant pup. And done my best at work with the little I brought to the table. And I cooked a bit. (Miracle.)
Felt simultaneously sad, scared and secure. Though the tears really haven’t yet come with any spill. Maybe because she is relearning curlicues and how to navigate on cobblestones and not “connected to a feeding tube” (her words); Kenan and his family are moving north and the people in my life are so loving and kind and hilarious.
And thanks to COVID-related travel restrictions, neither Madi’s dad nor I can travel to her home and support the family in person. That could be a good thing right now with these incredibly capable and autonomous people. But damn, the distance is a tough teacher.
I know that so many other moms, dads, siblings, spouses, friends … have learned this since before our species scribbled on the Neanderthal walls with ocher. What makes this event special are the people.
The love. The support. The fuzzy dog agreeing to face-time her folks so far away.
And the guys who came to fix the loo. I’ve added some new words to my lexicon of frustration and a deeper appreciation for the family we choose.
People. That’s what’s important.
Feeding them. Educating them. Providing safe communities and opportunities to dream … these are all important because the bottom line is the human element. We. Us. Not “it” or “them.”
So whoever is in charge of scheduling 2020, I still think you should go home and sleep it off. For the rest of us, at least we have the opportunity to learn more about what matters.