Sometimes it feels like grief and sadness will overwhelm me. It seems that the world has become a callous, bitter and mean place. The evidence is impossible to ignore.
The news is filled with misery and anger and vitriol. Governments everywhere are in turmoil, with uprisings and revolts around the globe. The president of the United States is mad at almost everyone, and almost everyone is mad at him right back. There are ugly, shameful things going on here. No matter how many telephone calls I make, letters I write and petitions I sign, I feel helpless to make change.
Local conversations lean toward gossip, sarcasm, and complaints. The days are too hot…and then it rains. Are we all tired of each other…or just tired?
Customers file in to the hardware store with death on their minds. They want to kill all the spiders, or rodents, or snakes. They want to kill every dandelion, or blackberry bramble or weed. “The killers are all in the first aisle,” I say, over and over, every day, sending them to the shelves of traps and poisons, herbicides, pesticides and noxious fumes. The other day, I heard, “I got lucky: the winter snow and wind knocked over a whole bunch of trees on my property, saved me the work of cutting them down.” I wanted to cry.
Yesterday my newest and best behaved little dog, the one who tries hardest to please me and always comes when he’s called, abandoned our walk to wander down the neighbor’s driveway. Then refused to come when I called him. Then, when I went in to retrieve him, and right after I said what a nice little dog he was, he snarled and snapped at their sweet little girl!
On top of all that, I am pretty sure I have crossed the line: there are now more people that I have known, and loved, and lost…than people that are still here, known and loved, in my life. The dead accumulate.
Some days, when too much work or too little rest leaves me exhausted, it is easy to let it overtake me, to feel buried by the sodden gray blanket of it all. It is a fight to rise up out of all the misery.
Last evening as I was gathering up windfall from the yard, I noticed a bird on the ground under the little cherry tree. It fluttered, but could not fly. Maybe it had fallen there after colliding with a window. I moved away, to keep the dogs from seeing. Damn windows, that fool the birds.
I brought out a shallow dish of water. A burst of flapping wings warned me away, but I slid the dish in close before going back inside. Later, when Darla noticed the movement and pressed her nose to the window and growled, I diverted her attention with a treat and a belly rub, and kept her inside.
Much later, I glanced up from the book I was reading. A movement caught my eye. I looked toward the spot under the cherry tree just in time to see the bird flutter, flutter, shake his head, then burst up onto his feet, then hop, hop, hop…and then fly!
Just like that, the cloud lifts.