Monday, October 06, 2008

buckle up your overcoat

I had not intended to post today. I am not feeling well. And I admit to pandering. I wanted to elicit sympathy before I told you that I have -- a head cold.

There is something odd about our empathy gene. If I were to tell my friends that I am feeling ill due to a spleen malfunction, they would all want to know more -- asking very solicitously what they could do to ease my burdens on this mortal coil.

But tell someone you have a head cold and what you will get is either indifference or The Typhoid Mary wave to stay away. The cold is the Rodney Dangerfield of maladies. Probably because it is common -- we all have to deal with one now and then.

My solution is to drink as much Nyquil as I can, and still be able to operate at work. Thus, my reluctance to post. (I was going to work post-nasal drip in there, but I am just too tired.)

And then I received an email that has caused me to seek my own empathy gene. This morning on NPR I heard a tale that we Oregonians hear quite often this time of year. Two young men had been swept off the rocks at the beach by waves near Newport. One was recovered; the other was not found. The rescuers recovered only his white hoodie. I remember being touched by that fact. The only tangible connection with a soul lost to tragedy.

Tonight when I opened my email, I was greeted with this piece of news:

I solicit your prayers on behalf of former [Salvation Army] officers and current soldiers of the Portland Moore St. Corps, Toni and Dwayne Halstad. Last night they received the horrible news that their 23-year old son Dwayne Jr. was drowned in waters off the Oregon coast at Newport Bay. The Coast Guard has been unable to recover the body.

The pain of Dwayne and Toni hit me immediately -- as if I had personally lost a friend or relative. But why?

I have no children. I have not even met the Halstads as far as I know. Is it because we attend the same church?

I really do not know. And I am not certain that it matters. What I do know is that the same empathy I felt with the recovery of the hoodie is the same emotion I felt when I knew the loss was closer to home.

I have been thinking of empathy a lot lately. The sense that we are all in this together, and someone else's loss diminishes my humanity a little bit, just as an act of kindness somewhere increases it.

As I lay my Nyquil-besotted head on my pillow tonight. I hope to share a prayer -- a thought -- for two grieving parents who represent each of our losses during this day.

I wish you each a day of peace and better deeds tomorrow.


JJ said...

That was a very touching post. You have a good heart.

Steve Cotton said...

jj - Thank you. I wish my heart could be better.

glorv1 said...

It is always so sad when tragedy strikes. I'm sorry Steve, and I hope you feel better. Take care.

Anonymous said...

i wondered why you hadn't posted. hope you feel better soon.

i will pray for the family that lost their son. what a terrible tragedy. losing a child has to be the hardest thing anyone can ever face.


Brenda said...

Sorry you're not feeling well. Hope it doesn't hang on too long.
I agree that losing a child is probably the hardest thing a parent could have to face.

Islagringo said...

Doesn't it seem that like when we can least deal with it, bad things happen. I'm sure everybody is sending prayers and well wishes to the family. And to you. Get well soon Amigo!

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- It has been an interesting day of mishaps -- the details are unimportant. Thank you.

Teresa -- I can only imagine their grief.

Brenda -- Thanks. I have plenty of Nyquil to help.

Wayne -- Thanks, amigo.

Alan said...

The loss of one human does leave a void, even if not in our immediate family. Life is a precious gift and when it seems to be untimely taken, it is even harder. I think back over 40 years of my life that would not have existed, and can only thank my creator for giving me that gift.

Now a little old timer advice to you who do not seem to believe sick days are meant for times like this. I will not ask you how many days (not even weeks I am sure it must be months!) of sick leave you have, but Steve, it is times like this when you are to use it!!!Alan

Steve Cotton said...

Al -- I was just talking about you today at work. If I had not had your advice I would not have a deferred income account.

As for sick hours, I have aboiut 1700, but I am hoarding them for my retirement calculation. Thanks for the concern, though.

Alan said...

Steve, Hoarding your hours is like the miser hoarding his gold. I always wondered where the miser had his gold stashed on his death bed! Seriously the few dollars or even cents (sense!) of losing 8 hours of sick leave for a day of health makes me wonder if the practice of law has dulled your natural born wisdom. In any event, your security and treasure is not laid up here, as so beautifully shownalalud in your blog of giving to the poor! Matt 6

Steve Cotton said...

Al -- Points all well-taken. We are going to have to sit down for dinner before I head south -- or on my way south.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Cotton,
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that my wife and I and our son Jeffrey appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we go though the most difficult days in our lives. We do know without a doubt that our son DeWayne Jr. is with the Lord at this moment. We know that God has a plan and I know that our son touched so many lives as was made aware to us at his Memorial Service on Saturday. There was standing room only. Captain Potter brought a great Salvation Message to the many young people who were there to share with us how our son had touched thier lives. I just pray that someone there is now a believer because they heard the Word of God. My family Love's the Lord Jesus Christ now and forever and we look forward to the day when we will be with our son in Heaven. God bless you!!

DeWayne Halstad Sr.

Steve Cotton said...

DeWayne -- Thank you for your comment. There is little I can add -- other than, amen.