Sending Empathy Long Distance

My new friend “The Gentleman”. He’s a King Parrot who visits us daily, eats the birdseed but gallantly steps aside when his mate is hungry.

Right now, life could not be better. Well that’s not quite correct. The feeling of nausea that is visiting three of the four members of my family (including moi) could leave and then life would be perfect. In any case, life is so good that even nausea can not dull my spirits. I have a house I didn’t expect to love but do. Gorgeous new couches which brighten my mood whenever I sit on them. Birds that chirp all day long and tell me stories that are gorgeous to listen to but I don’t understand at all.

And that is what I have been doing. Sitting on my deck, drinking coffee, listening to birds. On tuesday, The Gentleman (pictured above) even flew in for a snack while I was sitting at the table. My husband walked out with his computer and coffee through a sliding door and The G didn’t move a muscle. He’s not camera shy like some of the other birds and has the temerity to scare away magpies. I love him.

Meanwhile, my heart aches for my friends and family on the east coast of the US who  have suffered at the hands of Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully they are all safe and well but their spirits have taken a beating. And today I woke up to read that they are now dealing with snow on top of trying to live without power.

I spoke to a friend on Tuesday, who also no longer lives in NJ. She, too, is feeling the distance of the many miles that separate us from our friends. She told me stories of her children’s friends whose houses have been condemned. Not one or two but a third. It is hard to reconcile my joy on my deck with the suffering of friends. Their messages to the world announcing that they survived and are ok although without power feature alongside mine of pretty birds, new couches and flowering roses.

It has left me conflicted at times. Is it right to share my joy alongside their trauma? It is a conundrum of life. Newspapers daily feature the good news alongside the tragic. Highlight one person’s glory by a country’s pain. Once upon a time, it did not strike me so acutely. Now it does.

As we discussed what was happening in New Jersey with our children, a state they continue to call their home, we remembered the people we knew in our prayers. My children were 3 and 5 when we left NJ so much of our reminiscing consists of my lengthy descriptions of the people who shared their lives to jog memories that are becoming buried within their minds. My daughter interrupted my recounting by asking, “Should we pray for Nicole? Was she hit by the storm?” My surprise was evident as I nodded yes.

So we prayed for our friends and are praying for them still. I fully concur with every pronouncement I hear that encourages NJ and calls to the fore their indomitable spirit. They have it in abundance.

Keep safe and know that we are thinking of you in this corner across the other side of the world. xxx

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