Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Musings, 27 May 2011

Good morning,

An odd phenomenon has occurred several times in recent days. I have found myself lapsing into inexplicable tears while reading about someone killed in the tornado in Joplin. A husband shielding his wife; a mother dying with a child in her arms, its lifeless body clutched against her breast. The thought of these tragedies stabs into my heart, though I imagine it resembles a mere splinter compared with the rending of the hearts of those who cherished them.

I stood in a neighbor's yard when a tornado touched down, when I was five or six. The father of that household ran out into the melee and scooped my small frame into his arms as their sliding board flew away, just after the tree in our backyard had been torn from the earth. I know what a small funnel cloud can do, and I see the devastation in the before-and-after photos so I am not left to imagine the impact of the largest and most deadly of them. My breath catches; I drop the newspaper, and tears well in my eyes.

Next to the pictures of those whose lives ended last week in Joplin, I find a reference to the resolution of several competitions on television -- shows that I do not watch, and have never seen -- American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and so forth. I cannot acknowledge the virtue of shows such as this, even as a distraction, though I am known to watch entertainment just as pallid, such as Top Chef and Project Runway. But even I know better than to find such pablum newsworthy in the face of tragic loss. Who cares? I ask myself. Who cares who won this shlock? But someone must.

The world keeps turning. My cases march into fruition; my son ages another day. The balance in my bank account drops at an alarming rate; but my mortgage also dwindles. Three weeks have passed since I broke my wrist; nearly twenty years have slipped away since I first heard my child laughing, under the glaring lights of the delivery room. Fourteen years since my brother died. Twenty-six since we lost my mother.

But only seven days since the lives of over two hundred people ended on the day after the date that an old California man had predicted thousands of faithful would be borne aloft. One week, in which the lives of scores of survivors have stood still while rubble was searched. The collective breath of a nation held; the collective head of a community bowed.

My little world still dances on its axis. I have not lost anyone of recent years; and the three smiling children of this blended family bounce through the summer with glee. Their grades please us; their laughter soothes us; their slightly patronizing air amuses us. We hold them close. We know that we have been incredibly fortunate, to come unscathed, thus far, through the spring of 2011, when others did not fare as well, and now grieve.

One child stayed the night where he spent the evening; another watched television until the wee hours, then rose in time for his Saturday shift. The third has her own orbit, with which our days occasionally intersect. And I, in the last third of my life, can only feel grateful that I was not in Joplin, Afghanistan, Reading, or Iraq this week, and that none of them was. For those who were, I shed some tears, and made a modest contribution to help the efforts of Heart to Heart. I feel inadequate, I feel blessed, and I feel that somehow, somewhere, I should find or make an opportunity to do more.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.