something in the water

Sometimes I think there must have been something noxious in the water where I grew up. I came from a family of swimmers and all of my very closest friends and their siblings were swimmers. We passed our long luxurious summer days practicing in, competing in and lounging around a few small outdoor community pools. Our dreary winters were spent waking at 4:30 a.m. and driving in the cold morning darkness to swim a couple of miles in the chilly pool before classes began. The handful of us, all dear to each other, was a tight-knit group of girls who not only swam together but camped and hiked, went to the movies, the mall, the pizza parlor and partied together.

Maybe it’s just a matter of statistics, however, I find it odd how many of these dear friends of mine have had children of their own with significant health issues. One friend’s beloved firstborn daughter had a very severe form of epilepsy and died when she was about fourteen. Another companion had fraternal twins on the day my dad died and the girl was born with a syndrome that prevents her body from manufacturing cholesterol, a key component to development. A third friend in our circle had a beautiful daughter who was stillborn with no apparent problem to point to. My friend and neighbor growing up has two boys with heart defects and still another, a couple of years younger than I, has a seven-year-old daughter with epilepsy. One friend’s older sister had a daughter who died from Leukemia at the age of seven or eight then her son was diagnosed with two brain tumors when he was just five.

So it really seems that there must have been something in the water, like drinking tainted cool-aid. Or perhaps it's true that bad things simply happen to good people—most regrettably—to some very good people indeed.

photo by Michael Kolster

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