The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

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The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

I’ve Never Seen A Night So Long

Emotionally Raw, Tired, and Overwhelmed

I’m really tired tonight, emotionally exhausted. Trying to write my Grace in Small Things list for today was really hard. I took on a hard topic last night, and it’s still with me. Any one of the three stories that I found would have been pretty bad on its own, but to put all three together—I think that it was just too much.

I cannot get out of my head the image of the 93-year-old man who froze to death inside of his house because of a bureaucratic decision. I cannot forget about the two EMT’s who made the decision not to resuscitate a man based on the condition of his house. My god, if they came into my house right now, this very moment, if anyone who worked for social services or the city government came into my home right now they would think that I’m a terrible mother, that my children are deprived, that my house should be condemned, and most certainly, that I am not worth saving.

My house is a complete and total mess. I have cobwebs because I cannot reach them with my ostrich feather duster to clean them. The last time that I tried to do that, I pulled my back. My living room still has two dining room chairs in boxes because my eldest son refuses to take the ornaments off the Christmas tree. It has become a point of downright contention. My youngest son’s room is neat and tidy.

My room is relatively organized, but dusty. The kitchen looks like a disaster, but is wiped down daily with disinfectant spray, and the sink is scrubbed with liquid bleach. Clothes are washed and dried daily. Everyone bathes daily. I personally clean the bathroom on my hands and knees with a cloth and spray disinfectant because I don’t trust my sons to do it right, and Corey has enough to do around here. I can’t walk after I do it, and I have to get in bed and take my muscle relaxers afterwards, but it’s clean.

Regardless, the house still looks terrible because there are things everywhere from where we pulled things out to start the remodeling. Boxes, furniture, all sorts of things in the wrong places. Would that mean that I wouldn’t get the needed attention from an EMT because it wouldn’t look as if I deserved it? Who were these people to make this decision. I am completely flummoxed.

And then there is the story of the two children: Sage and Bear and their father. I have tried all day to put them out of my mind and find that I cannot because there are too many stories of too many children like Sage and Bear. I just came across another story of a 19-year-old and her boyfriend who beat to death her two -year-old daughter for not saying please, but she did manage to keep saying “Mommy I love you” while they beat the very life out of her.

There are too many stories like this for my heart to hold. I do not know how the men and women who work in these professions can do it, can go to their jobs everyday and hear about these children, or on the opposite side, hear about these monsters. I don’t know how social services can try to work with families who are so obviously dysfunctional but the courts say that placement with the biological parents is preferable. I don’t know how the doctors and nurses can look at the shattered bodies who are brought to them in the aftermath of parental and spousal warfare. I don’t know how the EMT’s can go into a house and remove the body of a 93-year-old man who died on a technicality.

Think of all that this man had survived: two world wars, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Twin Towers, desegregation, women getting the vote, a man landing on the moon, cars, television, and telephones. He saw great inventions and terrible creations of mass destruction. He saw all of the wonderful things that our country celebrated: the end of wars, ticker tape parades, the first step on the moon, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and he saw all of the evil of the world: Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany, Waco, 9/11, and all of the rest. And the final helplessness of dying of hypothermia in his own home.

To all of the people who do the hard jobs that I know that I would like to do but cannot, I offer my sincere gratitude. You walk into houses. You look for the lost children. You do not stop until you find the monsters. You live with the monsters, carry them with you, tucked away in you back pockets so that they do not touch the sanctity of your own families, but they are always with you until you can pass them along to the next link in the chain.

And some of you are never able to let go of the monsters, even when they are dead and gone. That is their heinous legacy to those whose lives they have stolen.

Newest Statistic That I Never Needed To Know

So today I learned from one of the Veterans’ websites that everday approximately 18 American war veterans commit suicide; every month, almost 1,000 veterans receiving care from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs attempt suicide (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/11/8868).

This startling statistic is news to most Americans because the Bush administration did not want this news to be made public to Americans. It has taken a law case, officially known as Veterans for Common Sense vs. Peake, for this news to reach the American public. This case is a class action lawsuit brought by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for United Truth on behalf of 1.7 million veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the conditions of the case, the VA had to produce a series of documents.

In one letter from Dr. Ira Katz, former head of the VA’s Mental Health Division, Katz opens his key e-mail with “Shh!” Katz advises a media spokesperson not to tell CBS News that 1,000 veterans receiving care at the VA try to kill themselves every month.

Another shocking number is 287,790—the actual number of American veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who had failed VA disability claims since March 25 2008. Other casualty statistics not normally revealed:  Number of American troops wounded in Iraq: 31,948;  Number of troops “injured” in Iraq”: 10,180; Number of  troops “ill” in Iraq: 28,451.

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Those three number total represent soldiers who are so damaged physically that they have to be evacuated to Germany. By splitting the numbers into three categories, it makes the number of casualties appear to be lower. Or, at least that was the thinking in the Bush administration.
 
Personally, the number manipulation just makes it that more tragic. These numbers are people, not numbers. If the American people were aware of just how many of its warriors were dying not only on foreign soil, but also on American soil, after they have come home, after they have been taken out of combat, if they only knew just how its veterans were waiting years for decisions on their benefits, perhaps they would be less complacent. If only we had seen the flag-draped coffins sooner, perhaps the reality might have moved beyond our periphery sooner.
Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day. More later. Peace.

I Truly Do Not Understand What Has Happened To The Milk of Human Kindness

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The Black Angel of Council Bluffs

The Truth is More Horrible Than Fiction

He Deserved More Dignity in Death

In Bay City, Michigan, a 93-year-old man froze to death inside of his home because the electric company had put a limiting device to limit the amount of electricity the man could use becaue of $1,000 in unpaid electric bills. The temperature in the house dropped below 32° Fahrenheit, and Marvin E. Schur died “a slow, painful death,” said Kanu Virani, Oakland County’s deputy chief medical examiner, according to an AP report.

Schur died of hypothermia, which he would have felt first in his extremeties as a burning sensation in his fingers and toes. Hypothermia causes a gradul shutting down of the body’s whole system. Schur was found by a neighbor on Monday morning.

Merry Christmas Sage and Bear

In Jerome, Idaho, on Christmas Day, Robert Aragon set out with his two children, 11-year-old Sage, and 12-year-old Bear, to take them to their mother’s house just one town away. The temperatures were bone-chillingly cold, and there were snowdrifts on the side of the road. Soon, Aragon’s truck became trapped in one of the snowdrifts. Instead of wrapping up his children while he worked on digging out his truck, Aragon decided to choose another solution: He had his children get out of the truck and start walking the remaining 10 miles towards their mother’s house.

Sometime after the children had been put out of the truck and told to start the long walk down the country road, Aragon managed to get his truck free. Good new, right? Did the caring father drive as fast as he could to pick up his children?

NO. He drove back home to Jerome. The children’s mother called to say that they had never arrived. Please note that this means that this cretin of a human being had never even bothered to see if his children had arrived. When authorities found Aragon around 10 p.m., he was at the site where he had put the children out of the truck.

Unbelievable, comments are divided on Aragon’s decision. Some people are trying to be forgiving:  “Who knows what went through his mind? It’s just so sad,” said Ron Choate, who owns a diner in Jerome. “Sure, the dad was dumb to let them walk, but he probably didn’t think something bad was going to happen.”

Others are less kind: “I am sure that the jail cell Mr. Aragon is now occupying is much warmer at night than the snow bank he provided for his daughter,” Pat Brownfield of nearby Twin Falls wrote in a letter to the local newspaper.

Within hours after the children began walking, Sage, dressed in pink pajama pants, a shirt, snow boots and a down coat, was dead from hypothermia. Bear was luckier. When he was found, he was wearing only his long underwear. He had become delusional from the hypothermia, and was found in a deserted, single-stall rest stop more than 4 miles from where the children started walking.

Snowdrifts at the site where Bear was found were around four feet high, and rescuers had to climb over the drifts to get to the boy.

But this is not the end of the story. Also in the car with Aragon on the night was his cousin. Both men face up to life in prison for second degree murder and felony injury to a child. A judge later dismissed charges against the uncle.

When I read this, what I could not believe were the number of comments from people who were arguing for Aragon, saying what a good man he was, how “a jail sentence is too harsh.” I find these comments simply unbelievable. A good man, a good father, does not put his children out in frigid temperatures, dressed in pajama pants to walk ten miles. A good father, upon freeing his truck, does not turn around and drive home.

Of course we do not have all of the facts in this case as to why the children were living with their father and not their mother, why their mother did not go searching for the children when she found out they were missing. There are a lot of glaring omissions to this story. But two key facts stand out:

Fact number one: He took his children out in the cold and put them out of the truck. 

Fact number two: He did not go and get them when he dug out his truck. No. He went home.

I, for one, am totally without words.

(From the AP. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090113/ap_on_re_us/death_in_the_snow)

It’s Not My Job

In December in Brighton, England, two Emergency Medical Technicians had a discussion on whether or not they should perform their job, that being whether to attempt to resuscitate 59-year-old Barry Baker, according to The Times of London. An unidentified source said that the EMT’s arrived in reponse to a call that Baker had placed in November after suffering a heart attack.

But after entering the building the two technicians were dismayed by the condition of the building and wondered aloud whether Baker was “worth saving.” Unfortunately for the technicians, Baker had never hung up the 999 emergency call, so everything that they were saying was being recorded, every petty, horrible, inhumane little piece of tripe that oozed from their shiftless, judgmental lips was recorded for posterity so that now, the entire rest of the world can sit in judgment of them.

(from UPI.com, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/12/31/EMT_workers_arrested_in_British_death/UPI-55681230750341/).

And Through It All, We Pray to Remain on the Side of the Saints and the Angels

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Lady Macbeth feared for her husband because in her estimation, he was weak. He had too much kindness in him:

“Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o’ th’ Milke of humane kindnesse.”

And it was true. He did not have the blood-letting capacity innate to his wife. But in the end, it drove her mad.

These people who treat life as if it is a coin to be tossed so lightly, bear it without the weight of its consequence. Why surely, God cannot “send to eternal pain a man who has done something toward improving the condition of his fellow-man. If he can, I had rather go to hell than to heaven and keep company with such a god” (Robert Ingersoll).

These people, these faceless companies who have not a thought for the lives they place in the balance when they put ignominious limitations on life-giving heat should be forced to sit in houses in which the temperature dips below 15º Farenheit, and no one looks in on them except for during the “thick night . . . and dunnest smoke of hell” (Lady Macbeth, Macbeth).

The man who makes a choice wholly inconceivable, disposes of children like small animals, left thoughtlessly by the roadside to freeze in the snow, “For a plot hatched in hell, don’t expect angels for witnesses” (Attorney Robert Perry, making summation to trial of John DeLorean).

“My whole soul pants for light and relief on these questions. But I get neither; and in the distress and anguish of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever. I see not one ray to disclose to me why sin came into the world; why the earth is strewn with the dying and the dead; and why man must suffer to all eternity. I have never seen a particle angel-wingsof light thrown on these subjects, that has given a moment’s ease to my tortured mind . . . I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers-upon death-beds and grave-yards-upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer forever: when I see my friends, my family, my people, my fellow citizens when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger—and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned, and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do so, I am stuck dumb. It is all dark, dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it”  (Albert Barnes).

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” ~ Dante Alighieri 

There is no more need for words. Peace.