FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dealing With the Deluge

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

I didn’t know my son J was in Mexico until he wasn’t. He texted he’d landed safely in Texas and followed this with magnificent photos of Oaxaca’s coast.

I looked at the images and thought of another time he was there. I’d answered my cellphone. One of J’s friends said he’d heard J had been shot. He asked if I knew anything about this. Terrified, I called my son. Had he not answered, I don’t know what I’d have done. Yes, he was robbed. Later, when I tried to sleep, my chest tightened—panic. I knew there’d been a gun. Just knew.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, a friend emailed, “The news is reporting a shooting.” Told me the address was directly across from son H’s house. Immediately, I called H. He said the body was just feet from his sidewalk. He was staring at it as we spoke.

I have an empty nest here. And because I worry so much about the safety of my children, I’d like to move the nest and leave no forwarding address—no news being good.

Here’s the question Dorothy Parker asked when her doorbell rang, “What fresh hell can this be?” Exactly.

Erma and I talk about “fresh hell”—neither wants too much information about our loved ones. Don’t want to hear about a quarrel. Don’t want to know if the grandbaby has the sniffles, a fever.

I’ve become a little calmer about the arrival of my grandson though. I can picture him, an image of J as a baby and then a toddler, hear that little-boy laughter and feel utter joy, but then I think of this world he’s meeting, defined by war, inequality, catastrophic climate change, injustice—and, well, that happiness is interrupted.

An award-worthy worrier, I learned from a champion, my mother, who could have been an Olympic gold medalist in the category of neurosis/neuroses. For so long, our angst was synchronized.

Here’s something unrelated to my children, but it still kept me awake the other night: the 1.3 million jobless Americans who lost unemployment benefits on December 28th and the additional 1.9 million whose benefits will end soon. I lay in bed, wondering about the desperation they must feel.

Imagine not having enough money to buy food or provide shelter for your children.

I read about a woman who said her job is now the search for a job. Was reminded of H’s experience when he was tasked with interviewing prospective employees for a position at his nonprofit. He said, “There were so many overqualified people, so many with PhDs, applying for this part-time position.”

Back to those discussions Erma and I have—about avoiding “fresh hell”. We know it’s impossible. So, we look to dealing with the deluge, even reframing.

Yesterday while driving, I caught a portion of an interview on North Carolina Public Radio’s The State of Things. A young Sudanese man expressed immense gratitude that he was given the opportunity to come to the US to study. Conflicted about his worthiness, he questioned how to embrace the blessings of the resources he found here and realized his responsibility to pay it forward.

He spoke of his war-ravaged country where the ground trembles with bombs and then said the profoundly optimistic: that for your parents to dare to conceive you is an act of defiance against death. I gasped. He’d brushed against my apprehensions. You know, this agonizing over my son’s decision to bring a child into today’s chaos, a child I’ll love with all my heart and worry about.

Maybe I can summon the young man’s words when there’s that familiar encroachment of anxiety or an expectation of “fresh hell”. And I’ll pretend this is effective until I have to pretend no more. Either because I do have hope or the nest has relocated—to an urn. No forwarding address there.

Here’s a gift for you, the interview with Nyuol Tong.

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail