Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
I look at myself and my life as rather ordinary, really. I live in a coastal city, in a neighborhood dominated not by beach, but by medical centers. Day & night I am regaled by sirens and helicopters. From certain vantages, walking the dog at exactly 10:00 pm, I can see the apex of the fireworks from Sea World; on a very clear morning, the shimmer of the ocean. The neighborhood itself has “had its day,” so to speak, and it is trendier and “mid-citier” in several other directions. Nevertheless, you can walk to shop, to coffee, to the public library, to the park, to the Greek Orthodox Church, even to trouble, should you wish.
This little “complex” is six units: a young lesbian couple with a new baby, one mother studying clinical psychology; a newly divorced mother with a daughter trying to get into grad school to study clinical psychology (what is up here?); a young couple – oddly I’ve never even seen; a vacancy that broke my heart; and finally, a middle-aged lesbian couple – One Black, one Puerto Rican from (for real) Fordham Road in the Bronx! I first met her as I was getting the mail, her parents were visiting, and I was wearing a hoodie from my days on Rose Hill.
Maybe six months ago, I ran into a handsome young black man as I came through the gate; he was polite, but shy and averted his eyes as we exchanged greetings. He turned out to be the grandson of my neighbor, and he was having some problems back East. Mother asked grandmother for some help, and here he was. Grandmother was set on helping him succeed. Next I saw him, he was dressed nicely, taking temp jobs until something else arose, she had gotten him a car, he was an “expectant father” saving money to return home. His plan was to bring his girlfriend & child back to CA, so he left as close to the date of the expected birth as possible. And to be honest, I had totally forgotten about him. I was told today he had killed himself, leaving a newborn son and a girlfriend pregnant for the second time. His grandmother, my neighbor, and her partner are leaving to bury him. His name was Arthur.
I was joking around with a nurse half my age on Thursday evening, trying to explain the “nature of tragedy” with the analogy of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from the movie Fantasia: you really want to help, and you really want to make a difference, but they just keep coming… And they came before you arrived, and they will continue after you’re gone. And you slowly begin to realize that God does, in fact, protect you from seeing the good you do, if only to prevent you from imagining it’s about you. So, I force myself to be “faithful over a few things,” (Mt. 25:21), and I cry at my inability to have helped Arthur, and I ask God to be merciful to him. And I ask this of anyone who might chance upon this.