Mixed Blessings 6/7/19

By Richard Bleil

For the last several hours, I’ve been trying to synthesize how to write about the events of today. I feel as though there is some kind of lesson in the day, but for the life of me, I can’t figure it out. Perhaps, writing about it will help.

You see, the day started with a very good friend reaching out to me. She told me of her friend, a young mother of three who had to leave her home with her children to escape an abusive man. For the life of me, I cannot understand how people can be like this, typically how men can treat women (but sometimes the other way around) to the point where she has to escape.

The problem, though, is that this morning, this woman found her youngest child unresponsive. They took the child to the hospital and managed to get the heart beating again, but there is no brain activity.

All day, I have been hurting for this young mother and her children, worried about how they will get through this tragedy, but tomorrow (although, perhaps more correctly, I should say “today” considering the time that I’m writing this entry) is the Sioux Falls Renaissance Fair. It happens one weekend a year, I consider it my “home fair” and I missed it last year. Now I’m torn between hurting for this family, and being excited for myself.

I’ve always wanted to fly first class on an international flight. Not because I feel like I need to fly first class, but because, just once, I would like to experience first class, and I don’t want to do so on a “puddle jumper” flight. This might seem unrelated, but the greatest concern I have is whether or not I will actually be able to sit there in first class, as people walk past me to the back of the plane. The odds that I would offer my seat to another is significant.

This weekend is the same. The fair will have vendors of foods and goods, entertainers, educational opportunities, jousting, sword fighting and I’m sure it will be terrific as it always is, and yet in my heart I’ll be worried about my friend, and my friend’s friend who just lost her child. I’ll have a terrific time, and feel guilty about having fun the entire time.

I hope my friend doesn’t read this, because, honestly, I don’t want her to feel bad about sharing what had happened with me. Tragedies like this are far-reaching. My friend was close enough to this young mom that she called my friend, unable to even speak coherently. She reached out to me because she needed to unburden, just as her friend did, and I am honored and proud that she chose me to do so. But the ripples of a tragedy like this reach far and wide; this mom has no idea that I even exist, and yet as I sit here, I am hurting for her loss, and for the loss to her children who are too young to even understand it.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was devastated at work. Her friend had hung himself. He had tried suicide several times before, and usually she was the one he would call. She made it to the hospital just in time to see him die. I don’t know this man, but I am angry with him to this day because of the pain he called her. I do not know this infant that passed on, but far from being angry, I feel great pains of loss for this child, and the family he leaves behind. But tomorrow, I will be enjoying my day, and this mom will be suffering through her first full day without her youngest.

Yesterday, I went to a very nice local restaurant, Brazilian style meaning they bring spits of meat around and if you want what they are offering, they slice a bit off for you. This restaurant has one of the most astounding salad bars I’ve ever seen, with some hot side dishes. A man in a wheelchair was there filling his salad plate with these hot dishes as I was about to return to my table. But, I had to ask, and took the time to ask if he needed any help. The bar had two levels, and he explained that, yes, he couldn’t read the plaque for one of the dishes which turned out to be steamed onions. He perked up, and asked if I could get him some. Well, of course I can, happy to do it. He thanked me as I was walking away, and I said he was welcome, and that we are all in this together.

We’re all in this together. Sometimes people need a helping hand. Maybe, just maybe, it’s enough to be there when you can be, and enjoy yourself when joy is within our reach. But, somehow, tonight, it doesn’t feel like enough.

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