MORNING COFFEE 27 - succulent grace

By Susan Weber

The sun’s out, the temperature is climbing. Take away the heartache and the horror show, it’s a perfectly respectable day. How do humans do this, ride both sides of hope and grief without imploding? We want to look the other way, pretend we’re not duct-taped to the bull's eye of a trigger-happy lunatic. Denial’s great until it's worn thin by irrefutable statistics.

So how do we cope when the chips are so far down they’re charging interest? Loved ones hang by their armpits over high picket fences. With upturned palms they ask to walk with us and listen as we process the pain. Their kindness is phenomenal, but clearly no match for this potent brand of inertia. Cancer wrings a body dry of social graces. Maybe we could try that caregiver group, learn a few survival skills. We finally do and wonder who this new girl is, going through the motions. She looks and speaks like us but feels like a corn husk doll.

Face it, there is no slick parlor trick for dealing with boundless grief. Lady Luck hasn’t made house calls since the robber barons tore the levy down. Redemption never did show up just because some lost soul wrote in, demanding satisfaction. The customer service of this low life circus is a bust. You’re on your own honey, and you don’t look good these days.

Oh really, you say, stepping out on your front porch week by week to find the hearty soups brought over by a friend. Sampling messages and tea and favorite books sent your way. Receiving tickets to a play, jars of your sister-in-law’s storied granola, your neighbor's turkey broth. Watching your son change a tire and your other son bundle wood with his uncle.

On the morning your family is heading back home, you open the freezer to find that no particle of oxygen will fit between the hand-made, foil-wrapped, easy-bake frittata sandwiches, veggie enchiladas, and breakfast burritos. Yam lasagna, cream of chicken soup, and tubs of gumbo tumble out, vying for your wide eyed wonder. Shutting the packed door against a frigid gust, you stoop to inspect your normally spartan refrigerator. It brims now with potpies, lava bars (dates, almonds, cherries to your health), and savory moussaka. You will not set foot in a grocery store for weeks, or fret about where to find the energy to cook. Should the notion of a single empty calorie cross your mind (chocolate’s got the omega-3s, better keep that), it will succumb to the nutrients stockpiled here.

Cancer is very good at making day-to-day survival feel like a fool's harsh dream. When grace glides in unbidden, tailored to the overwhelming need, tenderly do we weep.

Photo by Ken Billington CC BY-SA 3.0