Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dishing up a life sandwich


When I tell people that I write a column in the newspaper, they always ask me the same question.  “What do you write about?”
I suppose they are looking for an answer like fitness.  Or cooking.  Or politics.  But I always disappoint them and say, “well, I just write about stuff,” and they stare blankly back at me, as if I stopped mid-sentence.
“You know,” I say, in poor attempt to elaborate, “I write about stuff that happens to me or my kids or the silly stuff my husband does, or how the dog puked all night.  Stuff like that.  So basically, life.”
And it’s true.  I write about life.
Usually my words appear somewhere in the newspaper near where you find other standard life items.  There may be club news and stories that tug your heartstrings.  But there are also other sections that make my job in this paper a little sweeter.   The whole circle of life appears right there, in one short little condensed place on a piece of paper so thin that if left to the elements would disappear faster than the headlines on the gossip pages.  
There are the listings of births, the announcements that proud parents and grandparents make.  I read the names and chuckle about the utter creativity of people these days, and how before you know it, a boy named “Joe” will be the only one in his class.  I remark at how big or small they were at birth and wonder what that little baby will become and what headlines he or she will make down the road.  Someday I could see that same name in the business brief headlines.
Maybe that child will grow up and get married, and a glance at the marriage announcement section of the paper will always be a favorite.  Just to look at the people, young and old, falling deeply in love and posing for an often cheesy engagement photograph—perhaps the cheek to cheek pose, or the one when they stand with their arms around each other.  Each couple I wish a future of love and happiness.
But sometimes it doesn’t work, and the divorce section of the paper is short, without pictures, and never anything to smile about.
Other times, it does work and lasts forever, until one of those people are called Home and we read a celebration of their life in the obituary section.  I always make sure I give credit to each of those faces and names, for each have lived a life that is worth a moment of my time.  If nothing else, even a second or two to internalize each name and know that somewhere in my community, there is a grieving family who could use an extra prayer or two.
And then there, maybe even on the very same page, among the listings of births and marriages and deaths, is me.  Writing about everything else that happens between all of those major events that we deal with in our lives.  The daily routines, the things that make us laugh and the things that make us cry.  
If I stop to think about it, I know that just like when all of these events appear so close together on a piece of thin paper, these events have a real effect on what happens to us all.  Every single day.  It is because of them that our daily life is the way it is.  We call it life.  
It is life.  It is stuff.  It is all connected and a constant changing world that we often need to step back and realize how we are all a part of one another, from the births to the deaths, from the celebrations to the condolences.  The rest of it, in between, is the “stuff” and the glue that holds it all together like a big, giant Life Sandwich.  And we would be fools to not appreciate every single bite.

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