Monday, October 15, 2007

Connecting, I think.

I got the email a few weeks ago. Geraldine, the acquaintance from Act One who referred my blood donating adventures to little Hudson and Abella, sent me an email asking me if I would come volunteer at a weekend camp she was running for kids with brain tumors and their families.

Now we all know I’m not a fan of kids, regardless if they have brain tumors or not (notable exceptions include my niece Bug, and I’m sure she’s gonna start irritating me any day now, and baby Hazel, who I’m sure will start annoying me as soon as she learns how to talk.) In fact, one of the reasons I was so stoked to be able to donate blood to Hudson and Abella was because I could help them without having to be in the same room as them.

Giggly once asked me if I was absolutely sure I didn’t want to have kids. Yes, I am absolutely sure I don’t want to have kids. I don’t understand why my certainty isn’t more applauded in society. I’m doing my part to reduce the earth’s carbon imprint! I’m being a responsible human being by not bringing a child into this world because I can’t provide the same comfort and care of living that my parents gave me. And honestly, if I don’t have any grace for myself, if I’ve been known to literally slap my own hands if they wander towards the refrigerator one too many times, how on earth could I possibly have the patience, grace and love to raise a squirt who will have half my DNA. Seriously, folks, you do NOT want a squirt who has any of my characteristics running rampant across this earth. I’m doing everyone a HUGE favor, and I don’t understand why that’s considered a bad thing, that I’m not embracing what my gender was designed to do. Thank you, religion. You suck. Love, Amy The Writer.

But to tell Geraldine, “Um, no, I’m not gonna help you and your brain tumor kids camp” would reach a new level of Grinchy Bitchiness that even I’m not capable of, so I emailed back and said, “Well, okay, but you know I’m not a fan of kids right?” Geraldine replied, “There really is no pressure, though I might exert some to make you a fan of kids. You won't escape the weekend with out a few of them getting to your heart!”

But see, Geraldine likes kids. She’s got five of them.

When I was telling my parents what I was going to be doing for the upcoming weekend, my dad, The Great Stoic Wonder Whom I Love Very Very Much, instantly reacted with these words, “You’re gonna do WHAT!? WHY would you wanna do THAT!? Oh come on, Amy, it’s gonna be DEPRESSING!”

(Anyone who wonders where my cynical nature comes from should wonder no longer.)

“Dad, it’s not a hospice situation. They’re not going to camp to die, they’re going to camp to laugh, play, have fun, all that stuff.”

“Are you getting paid?” “No, it’s not about that.” “You’re not gonna get anything out of it!” And I reminded the Great Stoic Wonder Whom I Love Very Very Much that there are things you do in life because it’s not about you, it’s about you serving other people. He settles down after that, but to hear all those Grinchy Bitchy thoughts that had been running around my head come out of his mouth shifts my perspective slightly, and I head into the weekend thinking, Okay, I’m here to serve. I’m here to serve. It’s God’s joke that He’s calling me to serve kids, and I don’t like it very much, but fine. I’m going to be obedient and do it. It’s a pain in the ass, and I’d be lying if there wasn’t a part of me that’s clearly hoping I’ll be rewarded not with warm fuzzy feelings of Do Goodism, but something more tangible in the form of meeting a hot guy, my heart has been so bruised this year, but now that I’ve gone and said it, it’s not gonna happen, so okay fine, I’m here to serve, I’m here to serve, I can’t WAIT to serve.

Here is a picture of where I slept for the weekend, and the infamous Greeny Meany sleeping bag (last used when I did gutouts in New Orleans last year.) If you’re thinking it looks a little grim, you are correct, and you’re not even seeing the gal who slept five feet away from me who snored very very loudly.

You’re also not seeing my breath frosting in the air, because it was COLD. We were at a camp that’s about five miles away from Idyllwild, where I was at the Act Two retreat in September. It was damn chilly for a lot of the time. I’m a fan of cold weather, but even I thought it was chillier than chilly.

Geraldine, thank God did take me seriously, and kept me doing admin paperwork behind the scenes stuff, as opposed to playing with the kids. I checked families in, I escorted the jovial Director of the Neural Tumors Program at Childrens Hospital around from group of kids to groups of kids, and listened to him answer questions I never thought could be asked, “Are they working on a way to reattach my optic nerve (since they had to cut it to get at my tumor.)” I learned all about proton therapy, when you should and shouldn’t use gamma knife treatments, what Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis looks like (like frosting on the brain), and it was all very fascinating.

And it really wasn’t about me, it was about the kids and the families getting a chance to interact and play with kids that look just like them, and have the same issues as them. I did have one little 21 month old continually coming over to me to give me imaginary marbles (perhaps he sensed I was missing a few?) He wanted to be picked up, so I did, thinking a-ha! Here’s your chance to be maternal! Pick up the child, and warm fuzzy maternal feelings will flow! Your Grinchy heart will melt, and little children all over the world will flock to you the way forest critters flocked to Snow White and helped her clean the Seven Dwarves house! This is the lesson God wanted you to learn! Embrace it! Embrace it all!

And then the 21 month old grabbed the pen hanging from a lanyard around my neck and whacked my head with it. So I put him down, safe and secure in the knowledge that I still I don’t want to have kids.

But the entire weekend, I’m searching for connection. Why am I here (besides the obvious you’re here to serve. ) Isn’t there some big lesson God wants me to learn here? Isn’t there some connection He wants me to make? Who or what am I supposed to connect with? I’m not a parent, I don’t have a brain tumor, I’m not good with kids if they do or don’t have brain tumors. That pretty much distances me from just about everyone else at this camp.

Hudson and Abella are here, I get to meet them and their parents. They’re adorable, of course, and I even play a few rounds of soccer with Hudson. Seeing as how he’s three, his idea of soccer is throwing the soccer ball at the volleyball net and shouting “GOAL!” But I can handle it. And because I want a picture to show Mom and Dad of the kid I donate blood for, I whip out my camera and ask Hudson if I can take a picture.

Here’s the little guy. You can tell he’s grown up with cameras shoved in his face all the time, because he totally struck that pose without me coaxing anything out of him. He’s absolutely adorable, and pretty damn brave with everything he’s been through, though he has no idea what that word means. And as I looked at him through the viewfinder, this thought hit me, a part of me is running around in you, little man.

And maybe that’s all the connection I needed.

1 comment:

Midlife Virgin said...

Sometimes, the best connections are the ones that sneak up on you. Don't search for what the connection is supposed to be, let it come to you. As it did with Hudson.