It has been a while since we moved into our new home. We are fully settled in; we know the neighborhood; we know the quirks of the house and backyard; we are used to the sounds we hear; we watch the birds come and go from the feeders, their numbers slowly dwindling as the season progresses.
J is happy.
In the meantime, lots has happened. My mother passed away, our island was badly battered by a hurricane, we have loved ones and acquaintances we have not yet heard of, and we are doing our best to help, even at this distance. We have made friends, and we have met our neighbors. We have found a place for everything, and put everything in its place. We have acquired paint chips, and will be painting things here and there…
J is happy.
Life, as you can see, keeps happening around us and away from us, and we experience it in the ways that are available to us. My mother’s passing was not a surprise; she had been declining for a very long time, and this last illness was brief. I hope she is at peace, but the concern lurks that, with things as they are in Puerto Rico, her cremation might not have happened yet. This is waking me up at night as I wonder how long they can reasonably keep bodies in the morgues of an island that is so sorely in need of repairs to its power grid.
My mother and I were not close. I don’t think we were meant to be. I never quite understood her, but I did learn from her. I learned what I wanted for my children, and what I would like to do to make sure they had it. Grief is a strange creature as a rule, but this time it is wearing so many layers of strangeness that I find myself struggling with it some days… I keep going back to Sting’s 1991 song Why Should I Cry for You? and that line that goes: “mountains of endless falling for all my days remaining.” It does feel like that…I am mourning a person I didn’t really know in the context that I should have, and she is -in many ways- the greatest cypher in my life. J comes a close second, but J seems to want to get closer…sometimes.
On that note: we recently watched The A Word. It was heart-wrenching at times. I found myself sobbing at very small moments that wouldn’t quite hit the average viewer who doesn’t have a J in their life. I am a fan of Lee Ingleby, and I was expecting to like the show, but we were truly moved by the portrayal of a family coping (and occasionally failing) with a diagnosis of Autism. If you have a chance (and Amazon Prime) do watch it…
As for the island…the poor island. I have been making sure that I remind everyone, far and wide, that yes, we are U.S. citizens, and yes, we have a massive debt…but that the debt was generated and accrued by the government. The people that are sitting in the dark, waiting for help, risking massive outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses and other illnesses that will spread like wildfire under the conditions prevailing…those people need help.
I don’t know if Amazon has a fund. I don’t know if you’re into charitable giving. I don’t know if mercy is a thing when it’s not for a third-world country…but these people need charitable giving, and they need mercy now.
There are areas of the island that are still pretty much isolated from the rest of the world due to the damage sustained there. There are areas that will never truly recover. Puerto Rico is, as I know it, Paradise, but as it is now…well, it will take a long time for people there to go back to “how it used to be”, and -sadly- how it used to be a few days before Irma skirted the island (a miracle! Saved again by Yokahu!!!!) and then Maria slammed it…that wasn’t so great, at least not for a while.
So if you are into humanitarian endeavors: people down there will be very grateful in the middle of their bone-deep emotional shock if you give a little, or a lot. I’ve been a post-hurricane island-dweller with two small children, no water, no electricity, no food…and it was horrible, and that is one of the reasons I left the island. My heart, however, flies back often, and I’m doing my best (fractured though it is) to help in any way I can…
That’s it…try to help if you can, and if you can’t but you’re still inclined to help…pray.