Monday, January 28, 2008

Thank you.

Baby Kate took her last breath yesterday. A. and her family are, of course, devastated, but buoyed by the fact that so many people answered the call to prayer -- even us heathens. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I don't pray.

I dream, I hope, I wonder, I have conversations with small children who can't reply, books, animals, television commentators, pieces of furniture that get in my way, imaginary friends and, of course, wrestle with my conscience. Some of these things may be more analogous to praying than others might have you believe. I'd like to think so. But I don't know for certain.

But whether you do or do not pray yourself, I ask tonight that you please put one out there for Baby Kate, my friend A.'s daughter. Kate was born on 12/17/07. A few weeks later, she just stopped breathing. When she was admitted to the hospital, doctors discovered that she had suffered severe brain damage from a series of idiopathic seizures. As of yesterday, Kate was stable enough to leave the NICU. But the doctors believe that the brain damage is permanent and it has left Kate without any of her basic reflexes. Among other things, that means that she cannot swallow. Even with round the clock care, the prognosis for Kate is not good.

I can't even imagine what my friend is going through. I don't ever want to be able to imagine it either.

Now usually, after getting an email update as sad as this one, I might talk to friends over the unfairness of the situation. I might hug my kid a little extra hard. I almost always find some alcohol. And, you know, sometimes I might even tell the Universe that I am royally pissed off. I don't generally ask people to pray. It just ain't my bag.

But, A., a devout Christian, has asked for just that. She has asked not only for those of us who know her and Kate to pray but to ask everyone we know to do the same. She wants to, as she put it, overwhelm the heavens with good feeling for her daughter.

So tonight, I will get down on my knees, putting aside any feelings of hypocrisy or silliness because I have no idea what I'm doing, and talk to the God that A. believes in for a miracle for Kate. I will ask for Kate's recovery. And if that is too much, I will ask that she is comfortable, not in pain and knows how much she is loved. I will also ask that A. continue to receive the composure and grace that she has shown through this ordeal no matter what the outcome. And just this once, I am going to do my best to believe that my doing this will make a difference for my friend and her tiny daughter.

I ask that you please do the same.

No such thing as a small favor.

A couple of months ago, we got new neighbors. They are also American and they have a little boy about a year older than Munchkin. The Mom, C., and I don't have much in common but get together once a week or so to let the kids wear themselves out.

They didn't take block leave during the holidays because C.'s sister was getting married a few weeks after. So C. asked if I would mind watching their cat while they were gone. It wasn't a big deal, she said. "Just come in every 1-2 days, scoop out her litter and make sure she has fresh water and food."

Of course I said yes. It was perfect timing, actually. They were heading back to the states from January 6th until January 17th. We got back from the states ourselves on January 4th and I would be in town until the 18th, when I had to travel to London for an interview and then on to Spain for the long weekend. All of which I told her when I agreed to look after the cat. In fact, we laughed over how serendipitous it all was.

I should have known it was going to be an issue when she couldn't even get organized before she left. We set up four different times for her to give me the key and show me where are the kitty stuff was. And three of those four times she "forgot" and wasn't at home when I stopped by. But I was heartened by the fact that after I got the key, she sent me an email giving me the name and number of her landlord in case I noticed something amiss with the house and the name and email of close friend of hers who also has a key. Kitty and I got along famously for the 10 days C. and family were gone.

So all is well that ends well, right?

Well, not so much. On the 18th, as I am stuck in Heathrow at 11pm, wondering if I am ever going to get out of that bleeping airport, I decide to check my email. I find this in my inbox:

We are having so much fun we decided to extend our trip. We will be back on the 23th.

And that was it. No, "Would you mind checking in on the cat for a few more days?" No, "I'm sorry to change plans on you but..." And no, "Thank you" either.

So I wrote back to say that, sorry to say, but as I told her before, I was in London and on my way to Spain and wouldn't be back until she was. Did she want me to call her landlord or email her friend to look in on the cat? Her reply:

I really don't want to bother either of them with this. I really wish that you could have let me know that you wouldn't be able to take care of Chelsea. Isn't there any way that you can get back once or twice before Wednesday?

Now I was confused. Did C. think I hadn't looked in on the cat at all? I just couldn't accomodate her changing her plans at the last minute. I replied that Chelsea was just fine and that I had seen her earlier that morning. And then, being a total goober, I apologized AGAIN that I wouldn't be able to look in on the cat again since I'd been planning for weeks to be away. I again reiterated my offer to call her landlord or friend. I waited for a while but got no reply. I figured she decided to take care of it herself.

I ran into C. today while I was out for a run. She was sitting outside with a friend and waved me over. I politely asked her about her trip and she talked about it for a moment and then stopped, realizing that she had not introduced her friend. "I'm sorry. Nee, this is A. A., this is Nee, she's the one who couldn't look after Chelsea."

And you know, I might have been able to let it go if she hadn't said it in such a snarky voice. I quickly said I had to get on with my run and then fumed about it for the next four miles.


People go on and on about how as a society we're isolated, that we don't help each other out anymore. The age of the barn raising is over and all that. But honestly, sometimes, I really can't blame most folks for wanting to keep to themselves. Doing favors for people, especially certain kinds of women, can take a lot out of you.