“There’s No Understanding This…”

…I whispered softly to myself earlier today as I sat in one of the outposts of our favorite coffeemaker, this one in downtown Boston.  This area is foreign territory to me, all these crooked streets and tall buildings around which one cannot see, and therefore smoothly navigate –at least, I can’t, having been raised in the flatlands where you can orient to the horizon or correct your course by three right turns. Today I needed to visit the 5th floor of an old building that had, thankfully, banners bearing the word “GEM” hanging from its exterior on multiple sides. That was some kind of help, at least.

I’d darted into the brew stop with 15 minutes to wait until the shop opened. Breakfast in hand, I looked out on the morning commuters and coffee hounds.  I flipped open the local paper at hand,  and scanned, my eyes locking onto a story inside the Metro section. It described the assistance a Wellfleet police dispatcher had provided in an emergency home birth situation. Who knew that down in West Yarmouth the other day, this fast thinking lass just did what came naturally, and used her mouth as suction to get that newly delivered baby to breathe?

Paramedics arrived a few minutes later, let her cut the cord; mother and baby were rushed to hospital where both were pronounced healthy. The dispatcher was named godmother to the child, and as I gazed out the glass, tears welled up and nearly fell all the way down my face. What is happening to me, I wondered. What can all this be about?

Yes, we are tired, we’ve been cold, but it’s not as difficult as so many other situations. What could be afoot at the corner of Province and School Streets on a normal everyday kind of day, to make me weep over a simple good news story?

I wonder if it is joy at the gift of this news, and the fact that somehow we all might be connected. No one of us really understands the depths of life’s richness, the tragedy of living sorrows, or the gift of our next breath, but we do share them.

I collected myself and strode off to find the building with the jewelry stores inside.  This meander takes you past pawnshops, ancient coin collector corner stores, even one stoop called The Watch Hospital. Upon entering the gilded entrance to my building, I heard the uniformed guard remark into his cell, “it’s been a long time since they hauled anyone out in ‘cuffs.” Stale cigar smoke that could easily date from the ‘forties follows you down the hall and into the lift. When you alight a few floors up, you pass a window through whose steel grate you see a framed photo of Jacqueline and John cutting their wedding cake.  (Boston: no need for surnames)  Finally, errand finished and back over at the T, I tried to help two people, one blind, find the B train for the Green Line. Sadly I sent them to the wrong spot and then worried my words to the guard set some kind of alert protocol in motion. Such was today’s food for mind and soul, all before reaching my office door,  as this difficult month finally comes to a close.


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