Overflowing

It was that kind of rain, all socked-in, soft and steady, for hours.

The grave digger putting the dirt on top of the coffin after the funeral was wearing a raincoat. At first I thought it was a bummer, that the funeral people had to stand in the rain, that it was raining on the day of they were burying someone they loved, but then I realized it was kind of fitting. 

Dad drove me to Rutland to get my car back. The people at Kinney Motors were very kind, sympathetic, I think. On the drive up Dad told me about the car accident that happened just down the road the night before. Two cars collided at the intersection near where Mom and Dad live, which was weird because it's a very quiet intersection with plenty of visibility. One person died and another was air-lifted to Dartmouth. "I heard the chopper land in the field," Dad said.

I didn't know they did that. I always thought people were air-lifted from one hospital to another. I imagined a helicopter landing there, in Ed Lewis's field, where I had walked Daisy so many mornings. 

Dad also told me that Billy died. He had cancer.

Billy had triplets and two of them played on the Burr & Burton lacrosse team with Sam the year they won the state championship, in the last three seconds of the game. Billy was a NYC firefighter and he responded to the Towers on 9/11. Sixteen years later and people like Billy and his family are still paying the price for that terrible day. 

"Does it seem like a lot of awful things are happening, like there's a concentration of bad things these days?" I asked my dad, who is 76 years old and has seen a lot of awful things happen in his lifetime.

"Yes, it does," he replied.

I watched the rain for a while and thought about all the shooting and bombing, all the fear and anxiety. I wondered why the world is like this today.

"You know that shooting that happened the other day, in San Francisco?" he asked me. "We talked to Steve and he said it happened just down the block from where he works. He arrived that morning and everything was blocked off. He had to turn around and go back home."

Steve is my little brother. I imagined, for a moment, my brother being gunned down by an angry, crazed, gun-holding person. I thought about how that could have happened if Steve had been at work earlier and the gunman had decided to shoot some other people, too, maybe on his way to the UPS building.

Dad dropped me at the car place.

It felt funny, driving my own car after all these weeks without her. Sam loaned me an old iPhone that a friend had given him when his was broken, for music and picture-taking. The second song that came on, when I was driving home, had these words: "Human kindness is overflowing, and I think it's going to rain today."

I don't remember what the first song was.

I delivered flowers to the Dorset Union Store, which used to be called Peltier's and will always be Peltier's to me. The woman who was working behind the counter came out and told me that she loves the way the flowers look. "I'm all about presentation," she declared, "and when I saw your flowers, I almost cried." And then she hugged me, and then she did cry, a little.

I knew there was something else besides flowers behind those tears, but it didn't feel like the right time to ask. I just hugged her a little harder and a little longer.

A friend of mine stopped by while I was making bouquets in the morning. She and her family have been working hard to adopt a little boy who was abandoned by his heroin-addict parents almost two years ago, when he was a tiny baby. My friend and her husband and daughters love him very much; he has become part of their family. It has not been an easy journey; the world does not make it easy for good people to adopt babies born to and abandoned by drug addicts. But they refuse to give up; they are fighting for that little guy's right to be loved and cared-for.

"Before you tell me what you teach and preach, show me how you live and give." I saw that somewhere recently. I don't know who said it, but it makes sense to me. I'm tired of all of the angry words, all of the postures and attitudes and opinions. I'm tired of the divisions, the stances, the righteousness. I'm still upset about all the marching last January. I'm sure it was great to be in a crowd of people with an important message, all that feel-good energy, but what did it do? What has happened since? I am especially disappointed by the visuals I saw of airplanes full of women flying to Washington to walk around with signs.

I often wonder what might have been accomplished with those resources. Whose life might have been improved if all that time and money and energy had been used to feed a hungry kid or clothe a chilly woman or sit beside a lonely elder. The cost of a flight, the time it took to knit a pink hat, the hours and hours spent coming and going, walking and talking. Not to mention the waste of good art supplies. Imagine if all of those people, worldwide, had descended upon homeless shelters and nursing homes and schools and prisons, instead.

Imagine.

That's a march I'd like to see one day.

On my way north yesterday I spied a sign for strawberries. Finally, the first berries of the season have arrived. I turned my car around and went to the strawberry stand. There were two Amish boys, with a buggy and a table and lots of perfect red strawberries. I bought two quarts and noticed that the little boy had orange around his mouth. Then I spied a bag of Doritos on his chair. It made me giggle a little, thinking that these two boys, perhaps away from their parent's watchful Amish eyes for a while, were snacking on junk food. 

The older boy gave me far too much change for the twenty I gave him, I noticed when I got to my car. So I walked back over and handed his money back to him. He looked directly in my eyes and said, "thank you." And when I was driving away I looked back over at him and he waved to me.

This world is in a great deal of pain, we all know that. It feels like it's speeding up, even my dad thinks so. I don't know, some days, what the antidote is, I really am not sure. I'll bet, though, that it's not more anger, not more division, not more name-calling and accusing. Maybe it's fighting with your whole life for the right to take care of a kid someone else has cast-off. I'll bet it is.  And maybe it's beautiful flowers and deep, genuine hugging and delicious strawberries and honesty and thank you. I think it might be; I'm hedging my bets on those things. Human kindness. It should be overflowing. Make it be that today, please and thank you. Amen.

 

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