The past few weeks have been difficult for Roger, RT and I. We have been battling illness (colds, allergies, etc.) and back pain and preparing for my return to work, along with all the other challenges with living in a city without a car. It has been tough. We haven’t been sleeping well. At times each of us has been crabby; a couple of times, all of us have been crabby. I’ve been wondering when things will get better. How can we make them better? I think I need a new coat, or two, and boots and I want a new tote bag. Roger could use a trench coat and he needs some new work shirts and pants. RT needs a cover for his stroller for rain and snow and I want to get him some new clothes and he needs an in-between coat. It seems as though our lists of wants and needs keep growing. I have a job and that money is needed to catch up with our life. We want to go to Minnesota for Christmas, but right now we aren’t sure how we will afford it. Things seem tough for us Skopies in Boston.
But then, one family’s story changes my perspective. A couple of weeks ago, RT got an addition to his class. The childcare coordinator told me of “B” and his story. B’s brother had been in the preschool this year. In October, B’s father was admitted into a hospital. He is 33 and has a cancer that is killing him. He has less than a year to live. B’s mom needed help. B’s family moved to East Cambridge, where they have no family or friends. B’s mom called her mom to come into town from another state. Grandma arrived on a weekend. On the Wednesday after she arrived, she collapsed in the kitchen. She was rushed to a hospital, a different one from B’s father. Grandma was diagnosed with end stage cancer; it was everywhere! She will likely not make it through the holidays. B’s mom, a woman for whom English is a second language, was stuck. She enrolled B in daycare with RT. She needed to go back and forth between the two hospitals tending to her dying husband and dying mother, and to do that, she needed B to be in daycare. Sadly, the story is much worse than this.
B cried his first day of childcare, which most kids do. He cried until he passed out at 3:30 p.m. He did not eat or play. His second day was similar. After the weekend, his days got a little bit better. But every single time a person enters the classroom, B grabs that person’s hand and says, “let go”. He has grabbed Roger’s hand and tried to walk out with him. He grabs my hand. He wants to go home. But he cannot. He is far too young to understand what is going on with his family.
I have heard that this family has absolutely NO income right now. Mom cannot work because she must keep the house for her two boys and watch her husband and mother die. B and his brother are able to eat and get good care, but it is somewhat expensive to send the two to daycare/preschool. Roger and I have offered to babysit or do whatever we can. We plan to pick up some diapers for the boys on our shopping trip this weekend. We will do anything for this family that we can. But, it doesn’t seem like it is even close to enough. Thanksgiving is just two weeks away; my family will be safe and fed and loved. What about B’s family?
This morning was rough for us. I got little sleep last night and was cranky. It was cold, windy and rainy and we had to fight to bundle up RT. The train rides were okay, but the walk to daycare sucked. By the time I got RT into the classroom, I was irritable and pissy. As I drug his carriage up the stairs and hung his blanket and bag to dry, I took off my soaking wet hat and had a sour look on my face. I said a half-hearted goodbye to RT, who was already coloring with markers. As I walked down the stairs, I saw that B and his brother and their mom were in the doorway. B’s stroller didn’t have a canopy like RT’s did. His hat and coat and legs were soaking wet. And B was crying. Mom was consoling him in a language I didn’t understand. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would all get better. But, would it get better for her.
My wet walk back to the train was yucky. I stopped for coffee and got a seat on the train (which is lucky some days). My ride was fairly uneventful. But, I could not (I still cannot) quit thinking of B’s situation. I feel selfish for being cranky because I didn’t get enough sleep. I feel foolish for wanting new things for our family. By the time I arrived at work, soaked to the bone, hair a mess, I was feeling grateful for all I had. I had a coat. RT has a cover. I have a husband who is not dying. My mother is healthy, as is my and Roger’s families. Our life is pretty good, when put into perspective.
We will do what we can for B’s family. We will do what his mom allows and accepts. I won’t ask you to help B because you all know someone who is in worse shape than you are. I challenge you all to take a look around, put your life in perspective and help wherever you can.
Peace and Love