Posted by: fullandbye | November 19, 2004


There is no frustration quite like the frustration of seeing the people you love in pain, and not knowing what you can do to help.
There is no example of the limits of language quite like seeing your beloved language fail.
Or rather, believing that you have failed your language. What can you say? What combination of words can brighten a wintry evening? What axe can fell the bad-news tree? Or failing that, perhaps spin a web to catch its poison fruit? What words might the bitterest moments sweeten?

When words fail, what of deeds?

A shitty evening at Swank. I want to get some small gift for those having a bad night.
Satsumas for the allergic one. Flowers for the other. It is determined. I count my blessings driving down the hill to QFC.

Nearly midnight. The store is deserted. The cashier babbles something about how much Husky football sucks this year. I nod. My mind is someplace else.
Standing near the checkout, hands fumbling trying to remove the sticker from the flowers, a woman, bleary-eyed and exhausted buys mint milano cookies. A yellow name tag sticker catches my eye; a too-familiar font and logo. She is a parent whose child is at Children’s Hospital. A quick exchange with the cashier follows.
“Do you sell curling irons?”
“No. Bartell’s does, but they are closed.”
“I need one. Tonight. Even if it means getting on the freeway to get it.”
“I am not sure who would carry such a thing at this hour.”
“My 7 year-old daughter starts chemo tomorrow. She wants us to take photographs of her with her hair curled.”
I enter the conversation.
“A block away from my house there is a Walgreen’s open 24 hours. Follow me out of here and I will lead you there.”
“Are you sure?”
“It is on my way home. It is no problem at all.”
“Thank you.”

We drive up the hill. Traffic lights become enemies to outsmart. Each is a potential force of seperation. With care do I lead her, making sure she can stay on my tail at every turn. She responds in kind; her headlights constantly reflected in my mirrors as we wind our way to the drugstore, suddenly a purveyor of dreams and wishes.
As we approach Walgreens, I open my window and point into the frigid air. Turn signal on, she understands and departs on her way to make a wish come true.

I only wish I could do more.
Home. Friends. Sadness masked with laughter. Satsuma peels litter the counter.
I only wish I could do more.



  1. That was a good thing that you did, Raz. Your post hit really close to home. Stumbling outside after days of sick-bed sitting it’s an enormous relief to come across someone who for a change competently takes care of you in some way. And on a more personal note, that woman could have been my mom some years ago.

  2. woah.
    it’s wild when life just goes and gets intense at the supermarket, or some other banal place. thanks raz.

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