Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A song of lost causes

I heard this song on an ad for St. Jude's Children's Hospital (St. Jude being the patron saint of lost causes). Nearly unbearable to watch, full of images of small children being treated for cancer. This is so otherworldly it takes me right out of myself. Just exquisite, and heartbreaking.

My little four-year-old granddaughter Lauren has Type 1 diabetes - the serious kind - and was just diagnosed with celiac disease, which means she cannot tolerate gluten in her diet. That means the tight restrictions on what she can and cannot eat have become even tighter. Fortunately she is a sunny child with a great appetite and a willingness to try just about anything.

Yesterday she had to be taken in to the doctor's (again) for a scary infection that just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was an abscess on her abdomen that had to be drained with a long needle, with no anaesthetic. The doctor said Lauren was a lot braver than a grown man who had just had the same procedure. When he told Lauren "he was so scared he peed the bed", she laughed with her usual delighted abandon.

But oh, WHY? I know it is a futile question. Why can't I take this diabetes and celiac and whatever else these kids must endure on myself and just handle them as an adult must handle them? I do not want one iota of pleasure and excitement taken from Lauren's childhood because she has two chronic illnesses that NO ONE should have to live with, let alone a flaxen-haired, laughing little girl who loves nothing better than to run around the yard with sticks.

I  don't get it, but there is so much I don't get: how people can be so cheerful, so immune to the horrors that just seem to be escalating in the world. Don't tell me they're just being reported more often, because that is NOT it. There's something happening here, as the song says, more ominous than I can even describe.

Yeats envisioned the Second Coming of Christ with an apocalyptic vision of complete nihilistic destruction: "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned. . ." I wonder if things are starting to fall apart: the environment is beginning to hit back, unleashing floods, droughts, wild storms, tsunamis and tornados that weather experts say begin with the upsetting of nature's delicate balance by human beings' insistence on relentlessly pouring toxic crap into the air and water just so they can get around in comfort. Like the Ray Bradbury story about the guy stepping on the butterfly, all it takes is one flicked domino to bring the whole thing down.

Aside from the climate's Biblical catastrophes, there are other things, things I can't even bring myself to write about, and "little" things such as the fact that half the population has become too damn fat, waddling around and wondering why their health is declining. They drive everywhere, park as close to the mall as possible so they don't have to walk more than a few steps, sit all day eating crap, then wonder why they're fat: "it must be genetic".

I saw a great cartoon once: a couple stands in a department store. The woman says, "The exercise equipment is on the other side of the store." He replies, "Oh, let's skip it then." No one sees the irony in this sort of thinking.

I hate it, hate to think I'm bequeathing such a damaged world and such an unhealthy population to my four precious little grandkids, but this is the sort of world they will inherit (except, of course, much worse). In general terms, I guess I haven't done so well. I haven't done anything significant, at least, but with one shining exception.

It often seems like all I can do is love those kids unconditionally, to reflect back to them how wonderful they are without having to jump through any hoops, pass any tests or even do anything at all. I had a cold mother who pretty much ignored me, though she lavishly favored my older brother.

The opposite of love isn't hate: it's indifference. And I experienced it, and it left a hole in my soul. The psychologists would probably relegate me to the trash bin, too damaged to ever really love another person (unless, of course, I learn to "love myself", to which I'd reply, "Why?").

Something has been boiling around in my head like a storm front, and it will take one of several forms if I ever allow myself to write it. I suffered appalling damage at the hands of one particular family member, and it's not who you'd think. I need to tell this story, but I don't know when or how. Another one is a possible idea for a novel that deals with some of the excruciating ordeals my family went through because of my brother's schizophrenia. But this is pretty dark stuff, isn't it? Isn't life meant to be celebrated, aren't we supposed to pin ribbons on every tragedy and insist that "everything happens for a reason"?

It could be, it could be. If the environment really does fall apart, if this rise of casual evil isn't just in my imagination, then yes, it will happen for a reason. And the reason will be us.

Grandma's Revenge: unlock that bathroom, you bastards!

Toilet closure puts lid on long weekend fun

Well, they could've come up with a title that is less tee-hee. But at least they ran this, and only 2 days after it happened! We'll see if this changes anything. I can envision buck-passing even as I read it: someone is inevitably going to go after me for MY insensitivity and lack of awareness of the "real" issues (i.e., the right of park staff to goof off on a holiday Monday and not have to go through the agony of unlocking a door). It'll be a while 'til I take the kids to that park again, and I'll likely have to scout it out first to see if they can get changed and pee in privacy. A pretty disgusting situation.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look