Sunday Morning ~ Thousands More
Culuke-culuke ngwa njuci, tsata yakuluma. ~ There are many bees, just follow the one that stung you.
~ Chewa proverb
August 30, 2021
It’s Monday. I’m a day late. I didn’t write a single word yesterday. I thought a lot, though. I thought how to phrase things and the sentiments I wanted to convey. It was the first time in a long time I wrote nothing on a Sunday. Even the weeks I don’t post until later, I’ve written it mostly on Sunday. But yesterday, no, I gave it up.
I woke later than normal. I’d adjusted to the crowded bed more easily than I’d imagined and slept soundly in my little allotment very near the edge. The morning was hazy, foggy, a bit dark. I sleepily adjusted the pillow dislodged by a flailing arm and went right back to sleep. Amazed at what I can adjust to, the kids woke first and laughed at my grogginess. I’d planned to be up extra early to write and was confused. They thought this was exceptionally funny. James said he’d had a bad dream so decided not to dream again. Then I laughed and he was the one confused. We wrote our daily story then got up and ready for church. It was leaving day.
When I stripped the bed a little later I thought what a luxury it would be to crawl into it alone that night, sprawl out and put my legs wherever I wanted. But it wasn’t as satisfying as I thought it would be. The sheets were still a little damp when I took them off the line after dark. I’d gotten home from dropping the kids with their mom much later than I imagined. I could have thrown them in the dryer for a bit, but wanted to get the bed made and get into it. I was very tired. But I slept poorly. I tossed and turned and the whole empty bed seemed to be mocking me. At first I placed myself on the edge as if leaving room for the two other bodies I’d accommodated over the past three weeks. The stuffed animals and “blankies” absence made the bed look lonely. I had a flashback to the first few nights after my husband left, then the first few years when I left his spot empty. It took almost ten years for me to sleep past my side. I thought how ridiculous that was, as if he’d somehow find his spot waiting if he ever decided to come back. I thought about this last night as I moved to the middle and stretched my legs as far as I could. I felt the damp edges of the sheets. They’ll dry, I thought sleepily as I hunkered down. But sleep didn’t come. My arm ached a bit, then I thought my foot felt funny. Interesting that I never once thought about any aches or pains while the kids were here. I was too busy. I didn’t think about being too tired to read them a story. It wasn’t an option to be tired. Thinking isn’t always productive and I’m a believer of the Nike slogan.
One day last week we passed an intersection where a woman was holding a sign asking for help. The sign said she was poor. Amelia read that and as I drove through the intersection she said, “That woman needs help! Meme, you should stop and help her!” The compassion. The urgency. I’d seen that same woman there hours earlier when we passed. I noted she was still there in the hot sun, hours later. It was a busy intersection and I didn’t stop. If I’d had a dollar on the seat instead of inside my wallet, I thought I might have quickly opened the window of the air conditioned car and handed it to her. But stopping there, fishing out a dollar from my purse, and handing it over may have caused an accident. It wasn’t a convenient place to stop when the light wasn’t red. This went though my mind a moment before Amelia made her observation. By then I was in the flow of traffic and driving away. I thought about how desperate she must be to be standing in the hot sun for so long. I considered turning around. I wondered if that would be a good lesson for these kids: to go back and give her something. I didn’t, though. I kept driving. I said it made me sad that so many people were poor and needed help like that. “Then why didn’t you stop to help her?” Amelia asked. Yeah, why didn’t I? I had cash in my wallet. I would not have noticed a few dollars missing. Terrible location, I thought. Then was sad at the thought of what must have brought her to stand there. I wondered if she’d been abused so badly she just couldn’t move? I was moved by the emotion flowing from my granddaughter. I overflowed with love for this compassionate being. It gave me hope for the future. I imagined a world full of Amelias. James said, “Meme, you should help her!” and thought what a good example his sister was setting. What should I say to them? What example should I set as I drove on? They asked why she was there. I talked about poverty and unfairness.
I’d planned to take a meal to a friend who’d had a terrible accident. I asked the kids if they’d like to make her a card to go with the meal. They eagerly got out the paints and started on the artwork. They asked what color her hair was, wanting to paint a picture of her as accurately as possible. I laughed. Then Amelia looked up before dipping her brush and asked, “Wait, what color is her skin?” as natural as asking what color her eyes were. My heart exploded. This is the future, I thought. Kids who are more inclusive, accepting, compassionate, and loving.
It’s cliche to repeat the bit about learning from the children, but it’s what I thought. Their inquisitiveness is a model. They are continually trying to extract more details; they are trying to understand. I wonder when we lose that? We so often jump to judgement and abandon understanding. We’re satisfied with a few facts at hand whether they make sense or not. From our air-conditioned perches, safe within our homes, technology at our fingertips, we’re convinced we know how to do it right. We claim to know how so many others get it wrong.
Slight pivot here, but I’ve spent a lot of time over the past three weeks talking about insects and spiders and how they protect themselves and help us. I watched and marveled at the transformation from fear to fascination to protection with eagerness to learn and understand. They may sting, but that one that hurt us is only protecting itself while thousands of others continue to make our world thrive.
Love to all,