Picking up the pieces

By Carol / January 20, 2010 /

Yesterday’s hoar frost was followed by freezing rain over night. This morning I’m watching an ice storm wreak havoc outside my window. Limbs are coated with ice. The double whammy of wind and ice is littering the ground with twigs.

We knew this storm was coming, but there wasn’t anything we could do to mitigate the damage. If we’re lucky, the rain will stop and the winds will be mild, and damage will be limited to twigs instead of large branches or whole trees.

This past month, my book club read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Beautifully and powerfully written, this collection of stories explores the lives of people living in a small town in Maine, all of whom are connected to Olive in some way. One dominant theme in the book is depression. Several people we meet in the book have been touched by suicide. The book jacket description of Olive observes that she is critical of the changes in the world but often doesn’t see the changes in the people around her. I wonder if that isn’t being unfairly critical.

How many of us really know what’s going on in the lives of those around us? How many of us – even when we have some idea of what’s going on – know what to do about it? And when we do have a sense of something coming in someone’s life, how many of us can effectively do anything about it?

Most often, we meet someone, we chat, we move along. We never know, as Olive often didn’t. But even when we see the tension or tears, even when we get that ‘sixth sense’ of a problem, even when we try to intervene, the hurting person may not be open to help. Then we watch, feeling helpless, hoping the damage will not be too great, knowing we will have to pick up the pieces after it’s over.

Just like this storm. Oops. Another branch just hit the ground.

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