An Election, A Shooting, A Fire, and Stan Lee

The past week here in my little corner of the universe has been catastrophic, humbling and sorrow-filled. And yet, still hopeful.  Tuesday’s election brought some local relief from a very conservative group trying to take over the school board. Thankfully the voters turned out in mass and redirected what could have been banned books, religious persecution and flagrant disregard for the law. Whew!  With just a brief celebration under way, catastrophe hit. Borderline. Twelve dead. One of them, a friend or our children.  His parents we’ve known for years. Barely making sense. So sad, painful.  Just grieving. A friend texted and asked if I was going to the vigil, we tried to get there, but couldn’t. Road blocks.  Fire! Seriously. Just on the other side of the evacuation line we were able to stay in our home. Glued to Social Media and the TV. Texting and calling friends frantically.  Looking to see who was marked safe.  In my last blog I wrote about sorrow. Now I am living it. A deep, deep sorrow, of loss.  One I can feel in the deepest, aching parts of my soul.  Tears springing to my eyes as I read Facebook posts, watch TV and listen to the news.  Then Stan Lee dies. He was ninety-four, so I get it. I grew up living near the Marvel Studio in the San Fernando Valley.  He was an icon to me. I can still sing the Spider-Man song from the late sixties cartoon.  It seems a lot to bear. Honestly, in all this, I am just a bystander. I’ve been in a recovery of sorts from working on political and social action this last year, so I didn’t work on the school board campaigns, even though I was asked.  We knew someone in the shooting, but truth be told, more of an acquaintance than an intimate. Thankfully with the fire, we and our neighbors and my closest friends didn’t lose our homes.  And, Stan Lee, I knew the public man, not the private one. Yet, still experiencing what those around me have lost, humbles me, and reminds me of how connected we really are. How much we take for granted. How life altering a moment can be. And, then, I am hopeful:  a family of five (dad, mom, three children under 10 and one on the way) outside the market with a sign “Free Hugs given here.” Hugging a three-year old seems to make the world right. Signs everywhere thanking our first responders and volunteers. Restaurants, local businesses and strangers showing extreme generosity, gratitude and assistance.  It’s awful to think that we need such horrific events for us to come together as a community. United by geography, not worrying as much about things we don’t have in common, but the things we do.  I think I am going to be sorrowful for a while. I am still concerned for humanity. However, with great sadness also comes the realization that there is also great joy. Like the smile of a three-year old. The ginger plant my neighbor gave me is blooming so beautifully despite the wind. Strangers acknowledging each other and asking if everything is okay. I think I might be teary for a while. Randomly teary. Sometimes for sadness, sometimes for joy. Hold each other close, dear ones, in both the most difficult and the most joyful times of your lives. Because we are all connected. Wishing you blessings of gratitude, bounty and all you need as Thanksgiving approaches and beyond.