Why We Help

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I recently had an enlightening exchange with my psychiatrist. We were talking about the nature of love and mothering. I’m a mother hen and always have been and the question was, why do I do it? What do I get out of looking after people? Our conversation went something like this.

 

Doc-“So, what do you get out of it? What’s the payoff for wearing yourself out caring for others?”

Me-“I guess I help people because I think life is hell and we need help to get through it.”

Doc-“We are animals. We make life a misery for ourselves and others. Coyote’s don’t help each other, neither do bears or lions. Why should people help each other? Why do you help?”

Me-“I help because I know we are sentient animals. We are aware. It is our spiritual duty as aware animals to seek God and to help everyone, every day of our lives. I feel it’s our prime directive to seek peace and love and to help everyone we can.”

Doc-“We are sentient animals but most people only live for themselves. People go to church and they do their charity work and they help but it’s usually because it makes them feel good, or it makes them feel a part of something. Spirituality and religion are no more synonymous than ape is to human. Not many people put others before personal investment. Most people are self-orientated.”

 

When I was young, I remember feeling a sort of narcissistic glow when I helped someone. I remember feeling like a good person for just a moment. Helping made me feel good about myself. But it’s been many years since my feeling good came into the equation of, “why I help.” Honestly, I believe it’s motherhood that changed me. After fourteen-years of giving, it’s become an unconscious act. I love people. They don’t have to be family, I just love them. They don’t have to be good or perfect to receive my love. We are all animals wandering through the same shit show together but what matters is that we are conscious animals. So, support your neighbor, help your friend, help a stranger, give money to Meals on Wheels, and protect school lunches. Help peacefully protect our human rights, civil liberties, and personal dignity. We know what is right and what is wrong. That’s why it is our absolute duty to help one another get through each day. No one gets out of here alive so let’s at least get through it together.

Love and Bless,

  1. E. Orme
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The One I Loved Best: Part 6 of Rain on a Cloudless Day

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I remember the day my sister was born. Everyone says I can’t but I do. The day Sis was born began in Holy Cross hospital. I feel Granma take my hand as I wave goodbye to my daddy who is dressed in green hospital clothes just like a doctor. Time slips by like empty space before the next memory returns in the form of a brown and yellow flower patterned blanket spread over a bed. At two and a half I am too small to see over the edge. Daddy lifts me and I see Mommy looking tired and alone, the baby I’d expected is strangely gone.

More time passes from memory in empty waiting until I am standing under a glass window crisscrossed with diamond patterned lines. I feel my white fur coat gathering around me as my father’s hands take hold of my waist and he lifts me and points. “Not that one, no…not that one either.” He is pointing at babies in glass boxes behind a glass wall. “That one.” He says and waives at the nurse who walks to my sister and holds her up. I can already see her red hair peeking out from under the cap they’ve placed on her head. In that moment I love her. It’s not the passing love one feels for a pet or a doll but a blinding, body breaking, all consuming love that I can’t imagine I’ll ever feel again. In that moment I know that she will be my world and I love her, I just love her.

The home coming takes a week. I see Mommy from time to time and I see the baby they call Alexandria. Sometimes she is in Mommy’s arms, sometimes she’s in the glass box behind the glass wall. I want to hold her, kiss her and hug her but I’m not allowed to touch her. Everyone’s afraid of germs so I go with Granma and wait.

When Sis finally comes home there is a party. My grandfather and his second family arrive with his three kids who are little like my sister and I. There is also my cousin Little Robin, who is half grown and strong. He sits on the sofa and holds my sister. I watch feeling jealous and angry but I’m only allowed to touch her hand. This anger is a new feeling. It’s the first time I’ve felt it. It eats at me telling me I’m not enough, that I can’t be trusted, that I’m dangerous. I throw fits, I sneak baby kisses and get in trouble more than ever before. I know I’m supposed to help but I can’t and I’m frustrated.

The babies old long name is quickly shortened to Sis and Sis quickly proves herself to be an angry baby. Mommy walks her in circles for hours, singing the same songs in the same order while circling in the same direction because if she does anything out of order Sis screams. Some nights she screams no matter what Mommy does. My bed lays besides the old crib in our nursery where no one sleeps. I see Mommy pace circles in her long white nightgown as Sis screams and will not be soothed. I see her lay Sis down in exhaustion and leave while my sister screams on alone. through her screams I feel her anger, her discomfort and her confusion in every part of my body.

Slipping from bed I slide my arm between the bars of the crib and hold her hand. The old green linoleum floor is cold but I hold her hand for as long as I can. Her fierce dark eyes turn towards me, searching for my face in the shadows. Slowly she grows quiet. I stroke her face with my other hand, listening for Mommy who will be angry that I’m touching her baby. If I could I would climb my old crib and hold my sister to my heart. I would pull the string that makes our wooden jester dance and I would show her the little lamb that is painted on the headboard. If I was given a chance I would show her how not to be afraid or angry. I would keep her warm with hugs and let this love I feel for her spread from my over full heart into hers. But I can’t so I hold her hand and tell her again and again, “I love you.”