The gift of feeling useful

Dear President Trump,

I was wondering what you are up to this weekend so I asked Google and the website “” told me you are at Trump National Golf Course with no meetings scheduled for another 23 hours and 15 minutes. I was hoping you’d be golfing so we could catch a bit of a break from the mayhem.

Lately, though, you haven’t been on my mind as much as usual. A few days ago we learned that our brother-in-law has bone cancer in his pelvis and from the pattern of lesions apparent on the MRI it’s clear they are metastasizes from somewhere else. We don’t know yet where the primary tumor is. He’s having a full body CAT scan soon. He and his husband had long had a trip to Santa Fe planned so they went ahead and left on Thursday with a plan to return home on Monday, but he’s in so much pain they are going home early and he’s being admitted to the hospital for pain management and to expedite the diagnostic work-up. It’s really scary.

We’ve known so many people who have had to deal with cancer, starting back in graduate school when one of our classmates got sick with it when she was pregnant. I won’t go through all the different people, but suffice it to say this is a drill we know way too well.

Laura is flying out to Atlanta on Thursday to be with him and her brother. She’s so good to have around and especially when someone is sick or hurt. Plus, it’ll be good for her to get to spend time with them and to feel useful. That feeling useful angle is so important in general, but it becomes exponentially more important when there is a dire, unpredictable situation happening. It can be such a relief to get to do some dishes and fold some laundry, maybe pick up groceries and run errands or just sit nearby and make sure the person who’s hurting has some cool sherbet.

Sadly, I don’t think you know much about this way of being, and frankly wonder whether you’ve ever had experience with caretaking. If you had, I doubt you’d behave the way you do. Since this is something you’ve almost certainly not done, I’d like to inform you that it’s really an honor to tend to people when they feel vulnerable, scared, and overwhelmed. Even if you need cue cards to get through it, I urge you to try. Maybe a little tiny bit of empathy will result. Maybe.

May we be safe from whatever is making so many of us sick.
May we be happy to sit with people and hold their hand.
May we be strong for one another.
May we make peace with the universe when we have to face the unthinkable.

Tracy Simpson

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