Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Just came from Ash Wednesday service.
(Note to self: If someone brings wine to the pre-Lenten-program-potluck DO NOT DRINK even a half a glass just to be polite, if you are also leading the worship or program.
Note not to self: And thank you, Jesus, that nothing too absurd happened as a result of not establishing this rule earlier.)
On the way home, I was passed by a fire engine, going fast, sirens blaring. I said out loud to the empty car "I sure hope that's not going to MY house." And then, when I saw the crew pulled over a few blocks later, helping a man up from the sidewalk, I actually felt relief. And then I felt terrible.
Had NOTHING from the worship service sunk in AT ALL?

Backstory. I love, love, love Sue's blog. She's so funny and smart and spritual and energetic - always heading off to shovel snow or paint a room. (I don't really get that NASCAR thing, but I guess no one is perfect.) Another reason I'm always reading her blog is because I'm looking for secret clues. Somewhere, I can't find it now, Sue said that she doesn't write about her husband's disability, because that's his story to tell. And it's true, she doesn't write about it very much. I don't write about my husband's disability very much either. But I'm always aware of it as a subtext of her writing, and of mine.

Because here's the reality. Jeff's disability affects me every minute. Even when I'm not telling the story of his disability, I'm here to tell you that I'm telling it. The knowledge of it is always there, like a, like a ....what? I can't even think of a metaphor for what's it's like to know that the person who I love and trust and rely on more than anyone else in the world is always on a fragile precipice - could fall and not be able to get up, could have to reach something vital he can't reach, could be too far from the phone to get help. And when he and our son are hanging out together, and I'm at work less than five miles away but across two bridges in earthquake country, the list of possibilities just multiplies.

Well, I'm not trying to paint too hysterical a picture here, I just want tell you how it is. Last year, we found this really sweet preschool for our 3 year old son, but it was not accessible for Jeff by wheelchair. He encouraged me to sign Eli up anyway "I don't want you guys to be affected by my limits" Which was such a kind and generous thing to say, but was just not how it is, because we ARE affected. And the idea of sending Eli to a school, even for a year, that Jeff would never be able to visit, quickly came to seem completely ridiculous. So we ate the hundred dollar deposit and kept looking. It doesn't make the people in our family braver or more compassionate or spunkier than other people. We do not need pity. We do not wish to be an inspiration. It's just that the reality of our life has different textures than other people's and I don't think we acknowledge that often enough.

On the other hand, I don't know how it is for everyone else. Even if your husband can walk and stuff, maybe you think the fire truck is for your family too. Maybe you have other reasons, much more scary and sad than mine, for listening for the sirens in a particularly personal way. I guess I just had to get that all out of the way before I could say what I really wanted to say, which is, please pray for that guy, the one on the sidewalk. Please pray that he has a warm place to sleep and that he'll be lifted out from under whatever was keeping him lying there on a windy March night. And pray for peace for those who are wondering tonight if the sirens are for them this time.

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