strawberries

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I am finding that as I get older, I feel others’ tragedies more strongly, and I suspect that as a mama, it’s because I now have more to lose. Perhaps it’s also because social media brings everything into my living room, and I am reading the words and seeing the photos of friends and loved ones in pain so quickly afterward.

There have been unbearable losses this week, and much sadness and uncertainty.

My sorority sister lost her young husband suddenly. He was a veteran (like J) and they have two girls, aged 2 and 4 (like my girls). I am hurting for them. A family that is very special to us received a shitty diagnosis for their 5-year-old son, and I am hurting for them as well.

And unless you live under a rock, or even just in a self-imposed bubble, you know at least something of the violence people in our country are visiting upon one another. It is a heavy, heavy time.

Our little house in Maryland sat fewer than ten miles from the worst of the Freddie Gray riots. J was here and we were there, and while ten miles is a lot of distance in a city like that, it was all still so very close. Selfishly, I am glad that we are now living in relative rural safety. I like knowing that our water supply isn’t tied up in a city-wide system, and that I won’t wind up in a gridlock on the beltway should we need to leave the area.

I don’t believe that this is my season to be an activist, at least not outside of my own home. My responsibility right now is to my children, to keep them safe and fed, and to shield them as much as I can. To show them what kindness looks like, and encourage them to spread that kindness. To care for our community, and to be as self-sufficient as possible so that should the worst happen, whatever that may look like, we will be ok.

So today we picked strawberries. Lots of strawberries. We went as a family. We bickered on the way, but we showed our girls how you can disagree and then find resolution. We connected with the other people in the strawberry patch and talked about everyone doing their share of the work (an ongoing lesson, of course). We taught them how berries grow, and we let them gorge themselves on warm, healthy fruit.

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Tomorrow, I will put those strawberries away – in freezer bags and in jars of jam for later, in bowls for snacking and shortcake for sharing. Tomorrow, I will begin to take stock of what we have in the cabinets – food, first aid supplies, water. Tomorrow we will continue this important work of raising good, kind, decent human beings. We will see what happens, but we won’t do nothing.

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