On the news was a story about a train in Italy that was derailed by a flash mudslide. So far eleven deaths are reported. The mudslide was allegedly caused by the bursting of an irrigation pipe. We all have friends that have gone from diagnosis to death in short periods of time but even that gives a moment, a window, to try to prepare, to say goodbye. I thought about this most ordinary activity, riding the train; one moment riding, the next gone in a mountain of mud. What a terrible death. And then there are those swallowed or crushed by their homes and offices collapsing on them in an earthquake; or drowned in the wave of an unavoidable tsunami. This brought me the myriad ways in which sudden death happens ~ just think of those killed by drunk drivers in the flash of an eye. Sorry if you are depressed now. But trite as it seems, it made me stop and think how lucky I am. How lucky my family is. We have been touched by very little sudden or “unnatural” death; although there has been some. Maybe writing this will jinx that, but I don’t think so. I think luck is luck and life is life. As the parent of an only child (a hard found adopted one at that) I fear always that something will happen to him ~ opening our arms to let him fly is very hard but has to be done. My mother’s revenge is complete; she told me that once I had a child I would worry for the rest of my life. I can love her so much more now for worrying about me where I used to find it annoying because I understand it so much better; particularly as my child is driving and testing his wings. My prayers now are often just to keep my family safe, the love of my life, my child, my brothers and their children. This past year has taught us nothing if not that disaster can strike in the blink of an eye; a fire, a flood, a wreck. As full as my life is of the tasks that must be managed, job, child, dad, caregivers, husband, meals, shopping, whatever, it is time to practice what I would tell my friends, stop, smell, listen, breathe. The chores will still be there. So this Saturday, as an act of sheer gratitude, I did nothing at all. I lay outside and read until it grew too hot, then I lay on the sofa and read until it was time to eat or sleep. I worked on not feeling guilty, but just actually relaxing. The only armor I have against fear is gratitude and faith. I pray for the poor souls left behind, they are the ones suffering and I am grateful not to be among them.
At 6:30 a.m. my teenager is standing over my barely awake self saying “mom”, “mom”. At the 8th or 10th repetition, it finally gets through. I open one eye… “WHAT”, I say. Take a wild guess .. . he needs money. Check written, personal SAT earthquake, the first of the day, averted. The teenager leaves and the caregiver for my dad arrives. “He’s been really bad” she says. What she means is that he has been cranky and annoying with her because she is annoying and it is wearing on him. Of course he is also generally cranky and annoying. Nevertheless, she is having a personal crisis of insecurity because my father, who has alzheimer’s disease among other things, is cranky. This is her life’s work, you would think she would be used to old folks and their ups and downs but no… she takes everything personally. So I, coffee cup in hand, dressed in half my work clothes (top half and panties, very attractive) have to stop and soothe her feelings. For this I am paying her a pretty penny. For her money she will spend most of the rest of the day playing Farmville and avoiding my dad. Second personal earthquake survived, for now. Finally I get the rest of my uniform on manage to get out the door with my purse, briefcase, lunch and various items that will require me to stop on my way home or at lunch at an assortment of establishments. Everything gets thrown in the back seat before I drop it in the driveway, third personal earthquake of the day averted; and the most peaceful part of the day begins… the ride to work. I love the ride to work, public radio and I only have to answer the phone if I like the person on the other end. Upon arrival at work there are a variety of faux crises awaiting me, they are averted but don’t really count as a person earthquake, more like a minor tremor. The fourth personal earthquake of the day isn’t really avoided when I lose my temper with an unutterably rude co-worker. This is an ongoing and cumulative earthquake. I am generally able to let it slide, sometimes it just blows so one personal earthquake marginally survived. The day progresses with an unusual level of idiocy but finally ends. My second favorite time of day, the ride home; public radio and I only call the people I like and only if I feel like it. I arrive home and teenager, husband and father are practically lined up (not literally) waiting to ask “what’s for dinner”. Instead of saying “I don’t know, what is for dinner”, I manage to figure out what will be for dinner, read mail, listen to voicemail and balance my father’s checkbook all at the same time. That counts as a personal earthquake averted for him. My fifth comes as dinner is finally on the table at about 8:30 p.m. and I’m not sure if that counts as avoided, averted or barely survived. At this point the teenager has eaten so much snack that he is no longer hungry, I am too tired to be hungry; but my dad and my husband eat like hungry lions. Finally back in a shirt and panties I have to check on my dad’s computer (he has pushed the same wrong key for the 1407th time), explain when his long term care insurance check is going to come and why there are “black boxes” on his tv screen (our cable company has started putting up the phone number when sometime calls the house, he cannot fathom this). I will consider this my sixth personal earthquake of the day survived and the infrastructure rebuilt, ready for a new day. I fall into bed with a little mindless tv, answer e-mail, check facebook, get annoyed by the stupidity and finally, finally, fall asleep. I am ready for tomorrow’s earthquakes.