About a week or so ago, as my daughter Zoey and I were getting ready for the day, I flipped on the television. I had heard rumors of snow, and although I normally seek out the weather report on my phone, the remote was closer. The weatherman hadn’t appeared yet so I continued to pack Zoey’s lunch.
Normally, Zoey and I chat as we busy ourselves in the morning, talking about the day ahead. But as I asked her if she was looking forward to ballet class, I found I had to repeat myself, which is something I rarely have to do. I found her in the living room, staring at the screen, a look of concern clouding her normally happy, joyful face. I turned my own face toward the television, and I watched scene after scene of awful, terrible news: a shooting… a robbery… a police search for a missing child… a murder…
I quickly turned off the TV and resurrected the ballet conversation as I ushered her out the door. We drove to school cheerfully singing and laughing, but after I dropped her off, I couldn’t help but keep thinking about the unsettled look in Zoey’s eyes.
* * *
If I had my druthers—and as I often joke—I’d cloister my daughter to protect her from all the craziness that seems rampant in our world. I think it’s a natural feeling as a parent, wanting to protect our children from anything bad or dangerous or that has the potential to crush their pristine little souls. So we do the best we can to teach them how to be careful and cautious and how make smart decisions and to know right from wrong. And then we just hope, with every fiber of our being, that they stay safe.
After Zoey’s TV “news” incident, I knew what I was going to write about for my Everyday Nostalgia series this week:
- What we can do to try to make today’s world a more hopeful, happy, safe place, in spite of daily scary, sad news; and
- What we can do to start creating better futures for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world.
But then, as I was thinking about how to craft a better life for humanity, my plan was foiled; a late winter/early spring cold virus invaded our home, and I ended up spending most of the week simply trying to make our own little world healthier.
Changing the world was going to have to wait.
* * *
The two of us are generally quite healthy, but this season—with all sorts of nasty colds and viruses filling the schools and offices—we just couldn’t seem to escape it. Zoey caught a cold first, which amazingly only sidelined her for about a day.
I did not fare so well.
I woke up on Tuesday with a slight scratch in my throat, but I was determined not to catch anything, because I hate—HATE—being sick. It prevents me from completing my usual 3 days worth of work in one day, and that is NOT okay with me. So, armed with a handful of Zinc lozenges, Zicam tubes, and a few packs of Emergen-C, I headed into work.
A co-worker friend asked how I was feeling since my voice had started to have that telltale frog-in-your-throat sound. I waved my Zicam around and brushed off the comment. “I’ll be fine!” My usual response when I get sick, confident I would be. “These things are magical! Besides, I don’t have time to get sick.” I went back to my desk, swabbed my nose, and kept plugging away at work, convinced that the magical Zicam and the sheer force of my optimism would keep any impending illness at bay.
But here’s a cold, hard truth about colds and viruses and nasty bugs: they don’t give two you-know-what’s about whether or not you have time to be sick. They don’t care how positive you are. They weasel their way in, knock you down, plant their foot on your chest, puff out their own, laugh and say, “Bazinga!”
This time, I lost the battle and ended up eating my words: I got so sick I missed a day and a half of work. I couldn’t believe it. I was down for the count, and it was brutal.
On Wednesday night, as I laid in my bed battling a 103.5 degree temperature, I couldn’t help but think about sick days as a child. I’m sure many of us have similar childhood memories about being sick, and in fact, many likely have strong nostalgic feelings associated with them: curling up on the couch, watching cartoons or other mid-day TV shows you never got to watch and, even though we weren’t feeling well, kind of liking the fact that it was a valid excuse to miss school.
I have vivid visions of my parents doing whatever it took to try to make my brother and I feel better whenever we weren’t feeling well: Vicks rubbed on chests and under noses. Popsicles and ice cream for sore throats. The BRAT diet and glasses of ginger ale stirred to get rid of the bubbles for upset tummies. Cool cloths on hot foreheads and tummies. Back rubs. Cuddles and books and other things to try to distract us.
And of course, lots and lots of love.
In spite of my fever, I had to smile thinking of those memories. It’s such a comforting thing, right? Knowing you have someone around to help make everything better? It made me miss my parents and long for the days of having someone there to take care of me…
As I thought these things, I shifted and rolled over in bed, trying to get more comfortable in my feverish state, and there, appearing out of nowhere, was Zoey. In her hands, she held a dripping wet washcloth. She gently pushed me back against my pillow and placed it on my forehead. She flipped on the overhead fan and left the room. Minutes later she appeared with a glass of water, two cough drops, a Popsicle, and one of her beloved stuffed animals for me to cuddle with.
Zoey’s face clouded with concern for the second time in one week as she gave me a quick hug and whispered, “What else can I do help?” Though I was tired and slightly dazed from the fever, her kind, caring gestures offered me a moment of clarity: Zoey knew to do these things because it’s exactly what I do whenever she’s sick. She learned this compassion from me, which I learned from all the people who have taken such good care of me in my life.
Passing down compassion is one of the most important things we can do, because I truly believe that it is the cornerstone of change. Seeing how my sweet little girl took care of me, I had a feeling that my plans to seclude her from the harshness and heartbreak of humanity would be detrimental to both her and the world. Because isn’t that how the world is going to change? By each of us putting ourselves out there, taking care of one another?
Zoey gives me hope that the world can change and will change.
So, while being sick wasn’t much fun, it did actually help me write this post just how I originally had planned: Within the four walls of my own home, through the actions of one small, amazing person, I realized that the hope for our future starts with us.
So what can we do to continue to keep hope alive for our future and for our world?
We can be kind.
We can be gentle.
We can be compassionate and loving and understanding.
Instead of saying, “Oh, that’s terrible,” and turning and walking away, we can extend our hands and our hearts to others, look them in the eye, and ask a simple question:
“What can I do to help?”
The answers to that question might be as equally simple, but they might just be the things that end up fixing this somewhat broken—but still insanely beautiful—world of ours. If we want to have a fighting chance at changing everything for the better, it’s important we always remember to take care of one another. It’s important that we keep showing up, offering solutions, and simply keep trying.
Let’s keep handing out love and compassion and kindness, and let’s do this with more than just our words. Let’s do it with our actions.
* * *
Let’s keep handing out Popsicles and hugs, too. They always make everything better, both in sickness and in health.
Let us know: How do you practice compassion in your life? How will it help you change the world?
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At the Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.