other people's troubles

Despite my dreams—of falling in love and of others falling in love with me, of soaring high above the trees and of breathing underwater—I clench my teeth in sleep. I know why. Years of anxiety over my son and his condition have gotten the best of me. The angst is worse when I lie awake at night and even manifests when I snooze.

My son had three days of fever triggering two grand mals followed by a rash on his face, neck and torso that got worrisomely worse before getting better. Today, he seems remarkably okay, though who really knows. In any case, he seemed good enough to send him to school, which meant I was finally able to walk the back roads, write, relax and make an ice cream cake for a friend.

These days, my worries and burdens feel petty compared with other people's troubles. I can't imagine what folks in war-torn nations must go through. In Ukraine, for instance, what might it be like to see satellite images of a forty-mile-long military convoy on its way to destroy you? To hear that Pootie plans on starving your people into submission and maybe even into oblivion? To scour empty grocery store shelves looking for morsels of sustenance for your children? To use your unarmed body to block Russian tanks and trucks from overrunning your home? For mothers, wives and children to have to leave their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers behind fighting a merciless aggressor? To go without shelter, food, water and medicine amid the bitterness of winter warfare? To wonder if your god will forsake you like in so many wars before?

That kind of hardship, angst, worry, fear and heartache is impossible for me to fully imagine. But I can try to get there in an effort to bear witness to their struggle; it's the very least I can do.

Yes, I worry about Calvin's wellness daily, if not more. But he has amazing doctors he can fairly easily access, and we get his medicine with little trouble. I don't get enough shut-eye, am up several times most nights, and can pretty much never sleep in past five or six, all because of Calvin. Yet, nightly, I sink into a cushy mattress, rest my head on soft pillows and pull warm covers up over my shoulders. Though Calvin misses too much school, mostly because of his seizures, at least he has a school to attend. We have heat for our home, electricity, too. We can purchase virtually anything our tastebuds and tummies might desire from the grocery store just down the road. We get all sorts of essentials delivered to our door.

I think about the Ukrainian refugees—all of them. I especially consider the families with diabetic, epileptic, cancer-stricken kids and those with other serious afflictions. How will they fare? How do they get medical care and life-sustaining medications? What happens to people who are bed-ridden or too feeble to flee? It's hard for me to comprehend that kind of anguish and suffering.

And so, when I'm apt to feel like crumbling under my burdens, I remind myself that I have so very much to be grateful for. Compared with other people's troubles, I really haven't much to complain about at all.

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