Feeble Knees

Monday, May 29, 2006


Two things I find absolutely incomprehensible: another horrific disaster in Indonesia, and this.

I used to be a news junkie, before my little Bug was born. In the last seven (almost eight) months It's been hard just getting a free moment to read news headlines, much less actually read top stories. But beyond that I've found that emotionally it's a lot harder for me to read some of the horrible things that go on in the world.

It is beyond comprehension how any one could physically pick up their own children and throw them to their deaths. People ask, "what could drive someone to do this?" And yet so many people deny the idea that there is any supremely evil force operating in the world. They can believe in God, but not a devil. I say, you want evidence that there is a devil and a hell designed expressly for him, well then look no further than some of the things he has wrought - like driving a man to kill his innocent children and then himself to spite his wife.

Before anyone tries to correct me and say "Oh but the devil didn't make him do it, he chose to do this himself!" Yes, he did mentally accept the idea and physically put it into motion. But I find it hard to believe that an individual just wakes up one day, fine as wine and decides to murder his family. Something has to provide the spark, the urge, the motivation.

The same people who have a hard time accepting the existence of a devil will also tell you that they believe people are "basically good". To that I say, then whence comes a monster like this? Was he defective from birth? Obviously this is a man who once fell in love with a woman and married her, who started a family, who must have felt something the first time he glimpsed his son emerging from the womb. It had to have affected him to hold those babies, to be smiled at by them, to be kissed by them and hugged. How does a man, a father, get to the point where he can destroy something so precious? How could he not have been moved by the sight of fear in his children's' eyes? Where was the pity?

It is this kind of perversion and evil that God tries so hard to save us from. This was a man that God loved and Jesus died for, with children who God loved and Jesus died for. And yet it happened. The free will of the man brought about the killing of his children.

This small-scale incident I find as inexplicable and unfathomable as the deaths of more than five thousand people in the Indonesian earthquake. How can God stand it? I honestly don't know. What must His heart suffer? It is beyond imagining. I don't even know what to say about such things anymore. I know what the Bible says. I know theology. I know doctrine, dogma, and countless ways to argue in defense of my faith. Yet I try to make sense of these tragedies and my mind just sputters. I must be honest about this.

The headlines make my stomach lurch, my throat tightens and my eyes well up. When I saw the story about the man tossing his children off a balcony I just about stopped breathing from the hurt. I turn off the TV and shut down the computer screen. I look away. Not long after I'd given birth a friend who works at a nursing home remarked how difficult it is for women to work there after they have a child.

"They've just brought forth life into the world; and now they absolutely cannot stomach or handle the thought of death. It's just too close, too devastating."

That would explain why I just can't handle the news anymore.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lucked Out

Our street is surrounded by a brook and marshes and yet somehow we didn't get flooded out. Amazing when you consider how close we are to the Merrimack, and how bad some people not too far from us have it.

My intrepid sidekick Bug and I ventured out this morning to see what we could see. To be honest, I think we're both stir crazy. I wouldn't otherwise venture out into the rain for no particular reason.

Many of the roads we tried to take were closed off - roads less than five miles from here. The National Guard is out in Hummers blocking some streets down near the river. It's a surreal experience, seeing roads you've traveled all your life roadblocked with military vehicles.

It's still amazing to me that our house and yard are fine. The yard is sopping wet, but the water only comes just up over my shoe. Other yards not far from here are completely submerged. Even houses that don't appear to be underwater have hoses running out the front door. The river is running high and fierce; in all my thirty five years I've never seen it so menacing.

For the first time in over a week we had a momentary break in the clouds an a tiny ray of sun shone through the clouds. It lasted about sixty seconds. I should have taken a picture of that, because it's raining again now. Hopefully the worst is past.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Worst in 70 Years

You'll be seeing my neck of the woods on TV a lot in the next few days. The worst flooding New England has seen in seventy years is just starting to happen, with reports that it's going to get a whole lot worse soon.

Thankfully we are still high and dry, so far. We have a brook out back that is starting to creep into our yard, but it's nothing compared to what some of our neighbors are dealing with. Our basement is dry - so far we've only got two seeping spots around a hairline crack in the floor. Considering how much rain has fallen (estimates are around 6+ inches in this area) it's amazing. Our septic hasn't failed yet either, but we're keeping an eye on that as well.

I keep watching the brook from the upstairs window. There's a very short list of routes that we'd be able to take to evacuate if necessary - one, to be exact. There's only two ways out of our neighborhood - one of them is already flooding. Thankfully the remaining route heads for higher ground. Yesterday, and again today as Bug slept, I pulled on my boots and went out back to see how bad things were getting. I sloshed through the tall grass, but the water was only covering my foot. I don't know how much more the ground can absorb. I made the mistake of stepping into a recently mulched spot where we planted a tree for Bug and was quickly in mud up to my ankle - it was solid packed earth just a few days ago.

It's not over yet. Another three or more inches of rain is forecast for this afternoon. Pretty much all the major and smaller rivers in southern New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts are forecast to crest in the next few days - many are already in flood. Dams upstream in New Hampshire are weakening and the water keeps rising. So the worst is yet to come.

In an area where home prices are some of the highest (and most mortgaged) in the country, this could spell a huge economic blow for many. It's probably safe to say that the majority of people around here do not have flood insurance. We live near a brook and we don't have it. It's never been much of an issue around here.

The irony is that we New Englanders have always been a little smug about the fact that we really don't have too much to fear by way of natural disasters. We don't have earthquakes. No volcanic activity. No wildfires. No tornadoes. Very rarely we get a glancing blow from a category 3 hurricane, but unless you live in a coastal community, that's not really a big deal. We don't really have too many (if any) poisonous insects, snakes, etc. We can get a bit of snow here and there, but we'll tell you, if you ask us, that we'll take the snow over some of the things other states deal with (like tornadoes). So we all have a false sense of security when it comes to things like this.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Month of Firsts

What's the old saw? "Bad things happen in threes?"

Or maybe it's supposed to be "good things happen in three?" I dunno. We've been walloped by a few of Bug's not-so-hot firsts in this order:

  • First Cold
  • First Tooth
  • First Ear Infection

This all started several weeks ago and culminated in the Baby Perfect Storm this week.

First he got the cold, presumably from the three-year-old child of a friend who came to visit us around the end of April. Three-year olds, I've discovered, have a great propensity for picking up every single object within a five mile radius just to infect them with their germs. This is especially true of baby toys, which, it turns out, are absolutely irresistible to older children when they have colds. Bug got sick the day after my friend and her child came to visit, and that whole first week was bad. Really bad. Unable-to-fall-asleep-with-stuffy-nose-bad. Waking-up-screaming-several-times-a-night bad. Every time I tried to nurse the poor little guy the congestion was so thick he'd make these loud snotty snorting sounds, and it made me want to punch my friend in the nose. (I am only a very little sorry for feeling this way; Jesus knows about it. We're working on it.)

Then, while suffering with said bad cold, Bug started really teething, like, "chomp down on anything and every thing with those little vise-grip jaws and drool buckets" kind of teething. Oh joy. If I could have, I would have had him on a continual drip of Infant's Tylenol. I dosed him every five hours or so around the clock, but at the same time worried obsessively that I was wrecking his little liver with all that acetaminophen.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the cold persisted and I began to worry it was turning into a sinus or ear infection that might require antibiotics. I'd been waiting to call the doctor, knowing that nothing can be done if it is just a cold and that they'd tell me to wait it out. By Monday, the cold was now more than two weeks old, so finally I called the pediatrician and spoke with a nurse who said "absolutely bring him in." So off we went. The doctor saw some fluid in one ear but no infection. She said "keep an eye on it", then dismissed us with a pat on the head. I am happy to report that I did not then go hunt down the nurse who told us to "absolutely come in" and sock her in the nose. (Jesus knows. We're working on this one too.)

Wednesday the tooth finally arrived - just the very tippity-top of a little white ridge came through the gum. Hallelujah. Things seemed a little better after that. We had a slight reprieve, though the cold was still hanging in there and the poor little guy was just not completely himself.

Then things started going downhill again Thursday. Friday morning he was a mess. Afraid of being sent home again with another pat on the head, I dreaded the thought of packing him up and hauling him out in the rain (which seems to be unending; if I didn't know that God promised to never destroy the earth by flood again I'd be seriously considering procuring a boat by any means possible).

After hours of fussing and crying and then screaming, I called the doctor and off we went. One look in his right ear told the story. Ding-ding-ding, we won the prize: a prescription for amoxicillin. Praise God.

Somewhere in the midst of all this I turned thirty-five. It's all a little fuzzy. Looking on the bright side, at least I can run for President now. Might not be a bad gig. After this month, I bet it's a cakewalk.