Unexpected shocks reverberate through the night, their echoes loud enough and sufficiently strong to keep even the dead-tired alert and on edge. Last night, one such shock came in the form of a phone call from a neighbor, informing me that her 92-year-old husband had suffered a stroke a night or two before. The jolt hit hard enough that I did not retain details of the timeframe; only that it was quite recent and that her husband remains in the hospital. He is in no immediate danger, it seems, but needs to be transferred to a short-term rehabilitation facility as part of an effort to enable him to regain enough strength and mobility so his wife can take care of him at home during his convalescence.
Though they are Friends of the church to which I belong, they attend only on very rare occasion. I suspect it has been three years since they attended a service. My guess is that I am among the few church people who know them; I know them only because they live next door. Their infrequent and tenuous connection to the church notwithstanding, I decided during a sometimes-sleepless night that I would ask my neighbor if she would mind if I inform the congregation of the development. While I will do what I can to help her/them during the coming days and weeks, I suspect they will need more than I can give. And though I do not know them extremely well, the fact that I rarely see any activity at their house suggests to me their circle of friends may be small and dwindling. So, I think a message to the congregation might launch at least a bit of external support that could do them some good.
My neighbor told me last night she had spent most of the last day or two at the hospital, but had errands to run and had decided today she would go see her husband later in the day. I offered to do anything she might need; she thanked me but had nothing specific for me to do. So I suggested I would go visit her husband this morning, keeping him occupied for a bit while she was out doing errands. I just realized a church event to which I committed is scheduled about the same time I planned to make the visit—I may adjust my plans accordingly. The echoes of the shock continue to bounce off my mind.
My IC and I watched a couple of episodes of Lupin last night, the first time I’ve watched the French series in a very long time. I’d forgotten a good bit of the story, but it came back quickly. Even before we sat in front of the television, it occurred to me that I had not watched any television in several weeks; not even Netflix programs I enjoy tremendously. And it registered in my mind that I have watched nothing but Netflix programs for several months. I have avoided the news and all the mindless, vacuous programs that fill the airwaves and wires leading into our homes. That, in my view, is a good thing, although my knowledge of world events largely has been limited to online summaries available from AP and other news media outlets. I haven’t been getting the gory details we seem to have come to expect and relish. I do not think I have ever relished it, but consuming massive amounts of ugly, disturbing, anxiety-producing facts can become a habit. It’s a habit we all should break. Ideally, access to the gory details and unnecessary facts associated with day-to-day trauma should require some aggressive digging; we should have to want, badly, to get at the ugliness before we reach it. And, then, we should be willing to subject ourselves to psychological evaluations to determine whether we pose a danger to ourselves or others. The ideal world. It does not exist.
Over dinner the other night, my IC and my generous and friendly and oh-so-delightful neighbors (other side from the ones experiencing trauma) commented how much better we have it than so many people around the world. Most people, in fact. And their comments are absolutely right; dead on. Yet sometimes I think the world is too damn harsh for all of us. We may have good food and good friends and comfortable places to live, but the emotional toll of living in the real world takes a heavy toll on everyone. We’re buffeted by emotional pain every day, coming at us from all directions. Some of that pain is self-induced, but much of it arises simply from being a human in a brutal, unyielding world. Seeing and hearing about others’ trauma and torture can be just as ruthless as first-hand experience, I think. There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves. It hasn’t been long since I resurrected my memories of that book/poetry from my youth. Though it is, in many respects, a hopeful treatise on humankind, it acknowledges the anguish we humans face so frequently. We all need more love in our lives as salve to the wounds of living.
And there you have it. My mind’s wanderings this warm, warm summer morning.