Gray and overcast this morning, ravens croaking in the distance. I always have mixed feelings about ravens. They look so ominous glowering down from a pine branch, but up close, they cock their heads and look at you as though they want a conversation. In many Native American folk tales, the raven steals the sun from an old man who is hiding it and keeping the world in darkness, and returns it to the sky. He’s both creator and trickster. One of the things I like about so many Indian stories is the dual nature of the characters–nobody’s all good or all bad, which suits my general view of human nature. Animal nature too (she says, shouting at the orange cat who’s scratching the furniture).
Just got a call from my daughter, crying and upset about a horrible seizure her neighbor had this morning, sitting in the driver’s seat of a car packed with kids to be driven to school, including my nine-year-old grandson. She said my grandson came tearing into the house screaming for help, she and her husband raced outside and found the neighbor still in the grip of what apparently was a grand mal seizure. My daughter ran to his house, with some difficulty roused his wife, and he was still seizing by the time they got back. When it finally stopped, he immediately went into another one, thankfully much shorter. In the meantime, other neighbors (they live in a town house complex) had called 911, and a few minutes later paramedics were all over the place and the guy was taken off to the hospital in an ambulance. Another neighbor volunteered to drive the kids to school, and my daughter got on the freeway to drive to work, shaking like a leaf.
She was on her break when she called me, completely undone thinking about what might have happened if he’d been driving. He’s had seizures before, she said, but was so well-controlled on his current medication that he’d gotten his driver’s license back. My daughter spoke with his wife, a good friend, who said he’d forgotten to take his medicine for a couple of days, which may be the explanation. But he’s had bad seizures in the past, and I started thinking about Antabuse and how people ‘forget’ to take it for a couple of days and then drink. This is a guy who used to drink a lot–and can’t on his seizure medication. Makes me wonder.
We were at my daughter’s yesterday to watch the football game, and my grandson came bounding down the stairs to give us hugs, his shirt on inside-out, glasses sliding down his nose, dark curls going every which-way. Totally adorable. His four-year-old sister greeted us in a sundress, sparkly shoes, and glow-green socks, all discarded on the floor within half an hour. With their faces so fresh in my mind, I’m stabbed with fear thinking about what could have happened. I want so badly to protect them from harm…and can’t, not without taking away their freedom, another kind of harm, that age-old dilemma. Two children this country will call black and treat accordingly. They’ll need strength and wisdom to navigate those waters. I hope we their people are up to the task.
After the bitter nights
and the gray, cold days
comes a bright afternoon.
I go into the creek valley
and there are the horses, the black
and the white, lying in the warm
shine on a bed of dry hay.
They lie side by side,
identically posed as a painter
might imagine them:
heads up, ears and eyes
alert. They are beautiful in the light
and in the warmth happy. This is
not the way the world
is. It is a possibility
nonetheless deeply seeded
within the world. It is
the way the world is sometimes.
–Wendell Berry, “2008: I.” in Leavings