Last week I received some fantastic news. Split, my first novel, would be published by Bold Strokes Books. It was also my birthday. Had a big night out planned. We we’re hitting the Sky Pub and the metro would be running all night. It was a full moon. Faces beamed. Smiles were plenty. I had some money ( for a change ), and had recently settled a big family dispute. So, things were lined up.
I was flying high, enjoying my ego week. Feeling gratified and justified. In other words: self-righteous.
Then midweek, my good friend tells me her baby grand-daughter died. She was one. She was sick for a long time. It was expected. My friend told me this, by a school fence, as children, healthy and vibrant, ran into the yard. She told me this under a gray sky. Her eyes were swollen, red-rimmed, and glassy from fatigue. Her mouth trembled from holding back the grief and anger.
I know words. That’s what I do. I’m a word pusher.
I was speechless. I couldn’t do anything but stare into her. I squeezed her arm. We’re strong. We’re women. She walked away. I watched her.
I stepped over puddles all the way home.
When Saturday came, I wondered, should I go out there and party ? Celebrate, when my stomach was filled with stones ? I did. I went and danced. I spent a wonderful evening with my friends. The people who had come to share some love with me. And I’ve been thinking. These days, it’s becoming more and more difficult to celebrate life without feeling some mild shame about it. How can we be so carefree when Haiti is in ruins, or babies are being orphaned by a virus with no cure ? It is much more fashionable to be somber. But, in the end, how does one help when one’s life is void of positive energy ? How can I listen to a friend when my own mind is full of crap ? The only way to keep the world clean, is to start with your own porch. Sweep and dust your own space, then you can turn to your neighbor and grab the broom out of his hands if you like.
I went out that Saturday and refueled. Monday, it was the baby’s funeral. I had it in me to stand by my friend and comfort her. Perhaps it was the friendship and love I had felt during the weekend that gave me that desire to genuinely be there, heart and soul, for her that day. Perhaps if I had stayed home to mull over black thoughts, I would have been nothing but a vortex for her.
I want to be a giver. I strive for that every day. But I’m realizing, you can’t give with empty pockets.
What do you think ?