Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Alone

I don't know what the hell is going on with the world, but I am surrounded by disaster. Thank goodness it hasn't touched me yet, but I feel as if there is some Kharmic warning festooning about me. First a friend of mine was tragically ran over in an attempt to stop the vehicle he had forgotten to put in park from running over his pregnant wife who had fallen in front of the vehicle. Not even a day later, I sent an email out to some of my friends whom I haven't spoken to or heard from in a long time, in order to get their addresses so that I could send each of them a Christmas card. I came to find out that another guy I used to work with, Ryan—the absolute nicest guy on the planet—lost his wife last month. She wasn't even sick with anything major like cancer. The week before she died in the hospital, she came down with flu-like symptoms. Tests revealed that a virus was attacking her heart, then suddenly she was gone. Can you believe that?! Ryan was there beside her when it happened. She was perfectly healthy.

Ryan had to sell his home and move in with his parents. He's left alone to raise two girls, ages 6 months and 3 years. It's hard enough with two parents. I called him and offered my condolences, but what can one really offer in that situation except empty words? Awful, just tragic.

I thank my lucky stars and twenty other clich├ęs.

Then, last night, my friends down the street from me lost their home in a fire. They were out when it started—thank GOD! The neighbors said that it sounded like a howitzer had gone off. Apparently a propane line had exploded. My friend came home to see the fire only in the back porch area, but it quickly spread. The fire department killed the power in my neighborhood, prompting me to go out and see what was going on. I had to sneak through the woods to get there because the police barricaded the streets. I just knew it, after talking to people who were walking up the dark streets that the house was my friend's. "The eighth one on the left," came one answer to my inquiry, which was second-hand information as reported by a fireman.

When I got there my fears were confirmed. And there was my friend, with his family, huddled together on the street outside their blazing home, tears in their eyes. The flames and burned through the roof by then. Again, I just didn't have the words. What do you say to someone who is watching everything they have in life going up in flames—all the memories, the pictures, the videos of their babies being born, the pictures their kids had drawn since preschool, the love and care put into every choice detail of their home, their financial records and the sentimental memorabilia from their own childhoods—everything wiped out, leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs?

At least they had their lives, and the insurance to build another home—hopefully. You never really know how good your insurance is until you need it.

If somebody asks me how I am, I have to say that I am fucking wonderful, the king of the world. I am alive, my kids and my wife are healthy, I have a great job and I can pay the bills. My wife is calling all the neighbors now and trying to collect donations of kids clothing and money to help them get through this. They have family close by where they are staying. I've offered to watch the kids for them, and to be there for whatever they need. There's not much I can do by myself, but I hope the neighborhood will come together and show them that they are not alone in this world.