Late yesterday afternoon, I was watching the news with the woman I help care for, when I found myself with tears in my eyes. Normally, I don’t let the news affect me, but yesterday it was just too much — too much war and starvation and horror and all the other stories that are trotted out for our dubious entertainment. Thinking about it, I tend to think it was the juxtaposition of people’s fears about what will happen after the recent Supreme Court decision with babies starving to death in Sudan that got under my defenses. Just . . . too much.
People who are involved in any those news stories have no recourse but to deal with their trauma. Since I neither have to deal with it nor can do anything about it, today I steeped myself in localized, life-affirming actions — tended to my flowers. Though is it actually life affirming if I am pulling weeds? In my own small way, I am deciding what gets to live and what has to die, so perhaps . . .
I don’t know. Perhaps I should stop thinking and just enjoy the color that pops up in my yard.
Surprisingly, despite the onslaught of weeds and the gone-to-seed spring flowers, there is still plenty of color, and with any luck, there will be a lot more as the summer progresses and the seeds I recently planted decide to come up.
I’m sure more of the flowers I planted in May will flower when I get around to weeding and clearing the grass from around the greenery. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to do it. Best of all, when I do such hard work, I’m not thinking of anything but what’s right in front of me.
And that’s as it should be.
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.