I am, fortunately, many miles away from the states affected by Hurricane Irene’s angry path this weekend, but that geographical blessing didn’t stop me from riding my own waves of stress and emotion. I’m feeling kind of beached right now and like any self-respecting exhausted whale, I thought I should share.
Two years ago I probably hadn’t even heard of Twitter and I rarely visited Facebook. Fast forward to this week and I’m wringing my hands and losing sleep over people I’ve never met, yet care about in ways I can’t adequately explain. The Internet has created a universal connectedness that has become a blessing and a curse.
Two years ago I would have watched the news with concerned detachment, grateful for the lack of extreme weather in my neck of the woods. Today, my thumbs were poised over my magic phone, waiting for news of everyone’s safe travels through the eye of the storm. The feelings of worry and helplessness made more acute when one friend lost her house, while another couldn’t find out if her horses were okay.
In the twitterverse we call the people we have lunch with, work with, hang out with – RL (real life) friends – but it’s ridiculous to relegate the people I know in Virginia, Maryland and New York that I’ve come to love, as ‘not real.’ The anxiety I felt for them this weekend was all too tangible.
And then a storm of emotions hit closer to home.
My rare venture into Facebook territory last week told me a friend would be delivering the sermon at her church on Sunday. I awoke yesterday morning exhausted from my annual, virtually non-profit garage sale, but determined to go see her. I met this friend years ago as we both worked to build fledgling businesses while navigating the seas of motherhood. (I only have one kid; she has four. I’ll shut up now.)
A couple of years later she informs me of her grim Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis and I’m wondering what the hell is wrong with this picture. Fast forward again, three years later, to this Sunday morning and I was riveted to her eloquent words on fear and love.
I already knew she was an amazing writer and genuinely kick-ass human being, but her ability to make the bible real and accessible to a cranky bitch like me was a gift.
My heart swelled for her.
Before I could rest in the calm waters of my friend’s health and wisdom, I had another visit to make. I dropped in at a nearby business to celebrate the owner’s retirement. This woman not only helped inspire my art gallery adventures six years ago, but her influence on my town is inestimable.
As I offered my warm thanks and congratulations it became painfully clear she didn’t recognize me. The reason for her retirement was evident.
My heart broke for her.
Whether it’s Mother Nature’s wrath or some senseless disease, we all know how unfair life can be. I don’t have enough room for the clichés and you’d probably think of ten more anyway. But life is also pretty wonderful. So I’m going to swim in this glass of wine and feel particularly grateful for my blessings – health, family, safety and more.
They’re so easy to take for granted. Let’s all make a pact not to let that happen, okay?