Hidden Warriors

We drove down to DC on Thursday with a short stop to visit the college boy along the way there. Ian had a couple of days off from school, so we took the spontaneous trip to visit friends and museums and to get away from the routines.

Thursday night, I took an Uber to Sue’s house. Sue and I have been friends since middle school. In high school, our group used to sneak into dance clubs in the city. In college, I visited her at Harvard and was awed by the groups of guys in tuxes. She took me to the rooms of the Harvard Lampoon where she did many of the cartoons on the cover of the magazine. One summer break, she and our friend, Sandra, and I roamed around Europe for six weeks. We go back a long way.

Five years ago, her oldest son, who was a Freshman at Harvard at the time, got sick. He had a one-celled tumor in his brain, and his confused immune system managed to wipe out most of his brain. Most people die of this rare disease, but the boy was a six-foot two athlete and survived. But he “lives” in a near coma at home surround by shelves of medical equipment and adult diapers and old photographs of himself as the national merit scholar and class president and crew champion. Sue and 24/7 nurses keep him alive.

Sue and I went out to dinner at a restaurant down the block. It’s hard for her to go anywhere further from the house, because the nurses often screw things up. While eating our beet salads, she relayed stories of burst diapers and faulty feeding tubes and germs around the breathing tube.

DC is an Uber City. It was easier and cheaper for us to order a car as we met up with various friends and museums than use the Metro or use our car. Each uber driver had his or her own story.

There was one woman who told me about raising her two daughter on her own after the divorce. Her dad had to wait on line for three hours to vote in Maryland. Her last boyfriend used to cook all sorts of Southern black food, which was delicious, but he left her 45 pounds heavier.

A guy from Bangladesh had earned enough money to bring his wife here, but she was sad and lonely at first. She’s working in Target now, and will soon have enough money to go to school. To pay her back for her sacrifices, he treats her with short trips to Orlando. She wants to go to Montreal next, but they’re going to wait until the weather gets better.

We met up with one of Steve’s friends who was in town visiting his brother and his sister in law, who wasn’t responding well to chemo. And a blogging friend listened to my stories and offered much needed advice. (thank you)

Everybody was just getting through the day, trying to care for the people around them, and being decent to the hyper-chatty, aging redhead. Honestly, I was humbled by the generosity around me.

With all the ugliness in the news, it’s good to be reminded that most people are just fine.

2 thoughts on “Hidden Warriors

  1. This week for our UU service we scheduled a panel on community activism and service. One of our members presented on his work with the parks board over many years. Another talked about her work on the board of our local food pantry and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. A third, an artist, talked about the different forms her work has taken in the community, including projects in the schools. It was good to hear about all of this stuff.

    Of course now I’m back at work, and after yet another craptastic meeting with admin this morning I feel exhausted again.


  2. A friend from college went through a serious health issue with her husband (also a college friend, and her high school sweetheart). She’s one of those people who works hard to build community wherever she is and I was so happy to see that community step up for her during the uncertainty, hospital stay in a city they didn’t live in, and now, as he gets back up. He wrote his first caring bridge post yesterday, and I have been waiting for that. Yes, it is good to be reminded that human beings are capable of great kindness in their communities.


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