Monthly Archives: September 2017

Caring and Kindness Needed

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, felt like a rat when she made it difficult for a friend who was homeless after Hurricane Irma.Doing a good thing doesn’t count for much of anything unless you do it with caring and kindness. Knowing how loss hurts, I want to be helpful and do nice things for others. But too often I lose track of my caring and kindness. I forget how to support someone in pain.

At the end of last weekend, I cried when my son left town. Miserable in my empty house, I tried to feed the hole in my heart with ice cream. I made popcorn, and watched three episodes of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Nothing helped. It felt like grieving and loss, all over again.

After days of mourning I got back to appreciating the quiet house, and loving the privacy where I could dance wildly with the dog and sing to my dead daughter. Except for all the TV images of people suffering severe losses in hurricanes, I was feeling fairly comfortable when I got an email from one of my friends in Florida, “Hi. I’m homeless. Do you have a room…?”

Right away I emailed back, yes, she could have my guest room. But before hitting SEND, I listed all the reasons why she wouldn’t want to stay in my home: the smelly dog, the neighbor coming and going, lights out at 9:30, no storage space available, meetings with writers and bereaved parents scheduled there at all hours…. And I made a list of My New House Rules, which I didn’t include in the email but meant to have ready in case she still accepted my offer after reading all the listed conditions and deficiencies. I almost phoned her to talk her out of the idea of staying in my home. But she’d already (almost immediately) emailed me back. And there was so much relief and gratefulness and joy in her email – that I suddenly felt like a rat.

 

Did you ever lose your caring and kindness? Your patience? What animal do you turn into when you aren’t at your finest?

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Hugs of Joy, Hugs of Sorrow

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York photoshops multiples of her Havanese dog looking for a woodchuck while Botie looks for trouble in every corner of the world: hurricanes, data hackers, cancer, earthquakes....It used to be that when you heard the words, “Guess what,” you’d know right away someone was pregnant. Just those two words could send you gushing with emotion, jumping up and down, and hugging for joy.

This morning, a friend greeted me with two other words, also heavy with connotation. “Bad news,” she said. And even though it came from out of the blue, and there’s been little other than “bad news” all over the world these days, I knew immediately: it was cancer. Her husband had been diagnosed with cancer. And all we could do was listen to each other’s wailings, and try to hold one another up. And hug.

We hug in happiness and we hug in sorrow. It takes only two words to understand which kind of hugging you’ll be doing. And after a long while of hanging onto people because you’re miserable and need comfort, it sure would feel good to embrace them in joy. So I looked high and low for something uplifting to report on this week. North, south, east or west there was nothing but trouble. Hurricane Irma’s devastation, storm surge, threats of intercontinental ballistic missiles, Mexico’s strongest earthquake in 85 years, hackers making huge data breaches, more cancer, friends’ fathers’ failing health…. My blog, the weekly hug I send my readers, seemed doomed to be another depressing pity party.

It’s embarrassing and difficult to be searching for joyfulness with this much suffering going on all over. So I’m opting out of joy this week. I’m taking time off to howl hysterically in my own private hissy fit. But I’ll leave you with this photo-shopped scene of my best friend. Here, Suki’s hoping she’ll catch up with the woodchuck that lives under our patio. Intent on nabbing the chuck, she doesn’t always hear the two words that make her smile for the camera, “Cookie, Suki.” This is the closest I can come to sending you a happy hug at the moment.

 

How was your week? How are your relatives that live in Texas and Florida and all the places that got hit by hurricanes? What was the most memorable hug you ever had?

 

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Happy I’m Alive

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is in a small boat photographing Cayuga Lake and thinking of the flooding in Texas and the people who lost everything.I’m in a boat the size of my Prius. On Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, New York. Here, the weather was calm and sunny while Texas got blasted with Hurricane Harvey and epic flooding. The TV images still swamp my mind: boats floating between houses; the elderly couple supported by strangers as they trudged through knee-deep water to reach the rescue boat; tops of cars like small islands in oceans of flooded streets; the dog walking alone carrying a bag of dog-food in his mouth as people evacuated their homes holding whatever precious possessions they could carry.

On CNN I watched as evacuees were interviewed in busy shelters, one after another reporting, “I’m just happy I’m alive.” They’d lost their homes and belongings, beloved pets, neighbors, the feeling of safety, their dreams… their way of life. Some lost loved ones. Some lost everything they had. So much suffering and loss. Yet after all they’d been through they were grateful, “happy to be alive.” Hopeful. There was something more to look forward to, to live for.

The way I see it, loss can scar your life or be its reawakening. You can drown in your troubles and be swallowed up forever in disaster. Or you can allow it to fuel you, make you stronger, make you do something to help yourself and others.

How much hope and energy are you willing to invest in an uncertain future? Nothing is guaranteed. Anything is possible. The future depends on what life throws at you as much as what you choose for yourself. And the road to recovery can be long and rocky.

Six years ago I lost my daughter in a storm called cancer. And here I am floating in a boat, watching the water and surrounding green hills, and finding a million things that make me want to sing. My life is sad and it is beautiful. Many days I am only a breath away from a flood of tears. But I, too, am happy to be alive.

 

How has the hurricane hit you? What is the storm that stands out in your memory, that changed you?

 

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