Chi woke up with a brand-new fever of 102 and a version of lethargy I’ve never seen from either of my kids. The docs found nothing overtly wrong with him, but he wasn’t responding to fever meds appropriately (or the fever would have been even higher without them, perhaps), and he spent every waking minute nursing. Seriously, every waking minute. When he wasn’t nursing he was crying.
Fortunately for all of us, he then proceeded to take a five-hour nap and awake at least partly restored. It was a strange day. And while some of it (like the massive nap) was good, none of it was forseeable, so it all felt wasted. Add to this the second day in a row of pouring down rain, and we’re all a little lost and pissy.
But here’s the thing. As I nursed Chi to sleep this evening, I heard strange screechy sounds that I interpreted worriedly as the basement sump pump in distress (it’s been getting a hard workout lately). My anxiety level rose as I started to catalog the things in the basement we’d need to move or raise and the things that we’d just lose. And then it hit me: this is the teeniest, most trivial version of what people in Colorado are dealing with right now. (And elsewhere.) They are being evacuated from their homes, not knowing if they’ll see them again; they are at risk of losing their own lives and the lives of their loved ones; they are watching their roads and communities and beloved places washed away. Indeed, I’m realizing that we here are among a decreasing population who don’t really worry that much about catastrophic weather (except in winter, when it’s a big deal here). All over our country are folks losing homes to wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes. And those are just the “natural” disasters.
So as I sat in my son’s dark and quiet room, listening to the rain outside (and to what ended up being not an ailing pump but my other son’s Wild Discovery audio book on birds), I realized anew the bliss of being at home. Even just that little room, with its too-long curtains and the rocking chair that creaks, is a blessed place of rest and wholeness. It’s where both our boys slept their earliest childhoods, as soon as they left our bedside; it’s where special books and toys have gathered; it’s where Enrique, the bright balsawood parrot that Len brought back from Ecuador, presides over their young lives. To lose even this small space, let alone the whole house, with all its memories and beloved objects (not to mention the mortgage), would be devastating.
I hadn’t realized how much my wading in to my own life has led me out of others’ until tonight. I’ve avoided the news, I’m realizing, and curtailed my empathy, keeping what energy I have for my own experience and those right in it. But I’m reminded again tonight that there’s no zero-sum game here. Compassion is the wellspring and the water, and tonight it’s raining down.