Where do these people get the strength??
World Travel Blog› entry 50 of 51 › view all entries
It's been a very humbling couple of days back. Fell back into some old habits - none of them bad, thank god. Being a bit more social than I anticipated, at least I'm not holed up in my room hating the world for being so cruel and superficial, which I'm prone to do even without a trip to Africa. And it's bizarre, despite the innumberable fights with my parents, and all the funny things that I notice now, I'm so distanced from half my old life and I'm noticing so many changes.
I had a friend in college named Grace - one of those super-devout Christian types. She got married about 4 to 5 years ago and I knew her and her husband a little bit from UCLA. A couple years ago he developed a very aggressive throat/tongue cancer that knocked him out hard, and it came back again last year despite extreme surgery and radiation. He succumbed to it right before I left for Africa at the beginning of the year and I'd been following their blog on-and-off and was so desperately sorry. I wanted to help - they were even in California for a little bit looking at natural treatments for the second round fight with cancer, but I never felt like I had enough time or money or strength to reach out. Then I went away and got a shitload of perspective, and was the unwitting recipient of just SO much kindness and generosity that I don't really feel the same anymore. And I realized that helping people is a state of mind. Nobody, much less Grace and Andrew (RIP), expected me to hand over a grand, or house them in a luxury apartment, or drive them around everywhere. People make do, and more often then not, just the offer to help and the energy transferred in a sigh of relief actually changes some small neuronal connection or atmospheric pressure that brings change, or luck, or help from the strangest sources.
Mentally I just wasn't ready to give. And now.. I'm infinitely poorer, in a smaller apartment, and I want to do something for them, and it's kinda too late, isn't it? But I have the heart and mind now to reach beyond myself, and I had to write to her and tell her how very sorry I was for her loss. I had not even been strong enough to tell her that when he passed. I told her that anything she ever needed, whatever I could do, I would. Little does she know that her blogs and her lessons have unfortunately taught me something firsthand that nobody should have to face in their 20's. And her experience, sadly, is invaluable and precious in its own way. She truly must have the grace of God to go through something like that with 2 little kids, and survive. It's unbelievable.
Another one - my friend Mary, my old roommate from Habitat in Portugal and I have kept in touch more or less over the last two years. She just finalized her divorce, at something like 50 years old.. how the hell do you start over at that age after 30 years with the same person? It's cruel, so cruel. She's an amazing woman though and I couldn't even see her the last time I was in North Carolina, because I didn't have time, but I didn't really make the time either. She was basically ready in her car waiting for my call to meet me at the airport, but we ended up on a strange and circuitous route back from SC that just barely got me to my flight in time. I felt so bad, and I don't know if I'll ever make it to NC again, you know?
*She's* the one with serious family issues and a whole lot of life-changing problems to face. She's got to recover, but she's out and about like the dynamo she is rediscovering her beautiful life and making happy plans. And these are some of the exerpts from her chat:
"it looks like you had a great time in Europe - when there was no possibility of me going to Portugal, I was glad to see your pictures, so at least I could see everyone.
Where are you looking for a job? any in Charlotte?
okay, I better go and get to sleep, I love and miss you. come see me, I've got plenty of room, you can even have the downstairs, it's got a bedroom, full bath and livingroom, we'll just share the kitchen
keep me posted on your life, it has been very exciting, take care"She's offering me her home, much like Andi has been for the last month! And I haven't even done anything deserving of such kindness, truly. When all goes wrong, when my parents can make me feel like the biggest failure in the whole world, when past men in my life can make me feel like the most foolish person ever - by some miracle, my friends make me feel like the most loved and wanted person ever. I am very, very blessed.
When I think about all the people I've cared for or put so much energy into who act in stealth, and some flat out lie, and others assume I can be steamrolled or coerced, I sit back and smile, knowing that I'm now happily immune to repeated misfortune and possess the strength of a million tragedies.