Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The past month hasn't been the best of times or in light of an e-mail I received today, the worst of times.

There have been good things this past month - good Christmas celebrations with our old friends Betty Jean, Stephan, Sarah and Brian; a great New Year's dinner with Linda, Nazareno and Brigitte though Laurent couldn't be there; three glorious days with Deb and James in England; a visit from our Jack which led to some sight-seeing and socializing with other friends; and Tosca Sunday night with Linda and Nazareno. All pretty damn marvelous.

But it just seemed the bad was winning in the balance. We said goodbye to our sweet Reeserman almost a month ago; the fire was a major shock for Laurent, then add in his family concerns; a few events at the Embassy have caused frustration and even anger; and I had a bit of a health scare. I won't go into details but to say there is little we can do about most of these things and the specialist gave me an "all is well" report yesterday. Taken with the gray-wet-cold weather - I know at least it isn't snow - and day-to-day living in Rome - sorry gang it is only romantic when you're visiting - a certain air of depression has set in here at Via Asmara. And I might add, for myself at least, a touch of your old self-pity.

Then we received news today that shrunk all those things to their proper size, made me ashamed of my self-pity and, perhaps defensively, has had me railing at a God I'm not sure exists, off and on all day. A friend of ours from the Foreign Service and her husband have suffered the sudden loss of their 9 year old son. He had a brain aneurysm and was on life support for several days before our friends made what they felt was the only decision that could be made. They married late in life and he was an only child - a bright kid from what I recall on the two occasions I met him - and the apple of his mother's eye. There is no way that I can even begin to understand what they are going through right now as they head back to Canada with the body of their only child.

I find I am asking all the questions that you ask when you hear about something like this. You know them - may well have asked them yourself in the past. Why, if there is a loving God does he allow something like this to happen? Why is a 9 year old child taken while murderers and rapist run free? Why? Why?

But perhaps the real question that should be asked - not of God - but of myself is: Why does it take something this tragic to make me realize how fortunate I am?

23 gennaio - San Emerenziana


more cowbell said...

Oh god, Willym. I'm so sorry for your friends. As a parent, I simply can't imagine anything worse than something happening to my children. What a tragedy.

sageweb said...

Sorry to hear about your friends. I know that stuff has got to tear a guy up.

Doralong said...

How utterly horrible and tragic. Does tend to put one's issues in perspective, doesn't it? I think I'm going to go hug my kids now..

Elizabeth said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for your friends. A nightmare, an absolute nightmare. I don't know how a person recovers from such a thing. And the questions, the unanswerable questions. People write volumes trying to answer those questions, and still we each have to come up with our own answers.

And your own struggles.... first, I'm so glad you've gotten the all clear. Goodness me, my heart was in my mouth as I read. And as amusingly as you wrote about the fire, what a scary thing. Also, you know I've had my own struggles with all shades of the blues. If you want to talk about it, please email me. Big big hugs to you both.

Willym said...

Not being a parent I can only imagine what they must be going through - and what I imagine is probably only half. As a bystander it will become, for me, a footnote but for them it is something they will live for every day of their lives.

Elizabeth: Thanks, I may well take you up on that offer.

Sling said...

Damn it...Just,damn it.
You know,I just got done recounting how great it is to have been around for over half a century,and it truly breaks my heart to hear about the loss of someone that hasn't even really had a chance.

SubtleKnife said...

*sending out a virtual care package, jam-packed with lots of hugs*

tater said...

Sorry I am late to the party sweet Willym, and so, so, sorry to hear of the loss suffered by you and your friends. The loss of a child is a horror I can barely imagine, and a hurt that time will never heal. I had no idea you were in harms way on the health front, and am very relieved that you are now in the all clear. It is terrible when all of these events transpire to kick us in the stomach all at once, and it always seems to be the way of the universe. While there is nothing to dispense the doom and gloom, the heartache, and the sorrow while one is in the midst of it, they bring us a certain calm clarity once our ships are righted again. Eastern philosophers are wont to tell us that these dark times are the only contrasts with which we can learn to cherish the good. That we can maintain a degree of loving kindness even through our suffering, and for those that impose it, because we are provided the means to grow, learn, and achieve gratitude from the most horrendous things life can throw at us. I try to keep those things in mind, but am never as successful as those Tibetans. All I can say is that I am sorry for these dark times you have endured, and that you are in my thoughts and prayers.