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