June 02, 2015

A Peripheral View

Missed the kindergarten bus, again.  

Racing to get Eliza to the front doors of the school to throw her out on the sidewalk and catch the tail end of her little class walking in before the door closes behind the last child and I will have to then walk her into the school in my barefeet and sign her in as tardy, again.

That is my story every day at 11:34 for the past 2 months, and will be my story for the next 10 days.

I share that story with a dozen other kindergarten moms that I see driving that mad dash to catch the fading kindergarten lineup every afternoon.

As I was making the drive the other day, one eye staring at the clock in an effort to stop it from advancing one more minute, the other eye on the road and my third eye in my rear view mirror barking instructions at Eliza to empty her papers out of her folder so it looks like I am actually checking her backpack every day, I notice a lady knelt down in her lawn petting her large dog laying in the grass.

A dog and its owner, outside, beautiful sunny day.  That is how it might look to the dozens of minivans passing by that might have caught a glimpse of the house on the corner.

It caught my eye, but not just my periphery.  It caught my full attention.

I successfully tossed Eliza with a kiss into the pile of little people with oversized backpacks just in the nick of time.

I drove back to the house on the corner and pulled up to the curb.

I hollered out a "Hello," and the homeowner walked over closer my car.

"I just saw you and thought I could stop and help in some way," I said.

She came up to my window and started crying.

"Well, I don't know, I just was taking my dog out to go to the bathroom and then she laid down and won't get up," she said in between tears, "maybe you can pull around?"

I pulled around to her driveway.

I introduced myself and told her that I am used to lifting heavy things (I knew that Bridger-built skill could come in handy some day:) and suggested that I could help her lift her dog back into the house.

She introduced herself and told me about her dog, Maggie -- that she was very old and that when she brought her outside she just lay down in the grass and just wouldn't respond any more.  She thought that this might be her time to go so she knelt there in the grass and rubbed her body waiting for her to take her last breath.  She had me joining in her tears by this point.

We walk over to Maggie laying motionless in the grass with the plan to together lift her into her home so that she may die there inside where her owner could tend to her.

As I approached Maggie, the sight and sound of a stranger made her lift her old but curious head. Her tail starting thumping a bit and Maggie became totally responsive, her breathing picked up and she even tried to move her body to greet me. The owner started laughing through her tears.  All Maggie needed was a stranger.  The owner hugged me and I helped her get Maggie to her feet and she limbered along with the owner holding the handles of her support strap and get Maggie back into the comfort of her home.

I don't know what happened to Maggie after that, if she laid down into her dog bed that night and took her last breath, or if she is still being lovingly cared for by her owner.

What I do know is how grateful I am that I had eyes to see that as I drove by.

I didn't know how to help or what to do.  But, as I have come to appreciate, just being present in someone else's challenging time is often all that is needed.

How many times do I pass by someone in need and don't see?  I think the blinders of "busyness" that we wear are quite effective in blocking our periphery and keeping us focused.  But can focus be misguided tunnel vision?

With Bridger's visual impairment I have grown to understand and appreciate vision more.  For the first few years he couldn't even see me if I was more than a couple feet away.  He learned to use his other senses in tandem with his vision, and when he did he could then make out what was right before him. Because of the underdeveloped muscles in his eyes, his most acute visual field was not what was right in front of him either.  He saw best in his periphery.

Periphery and vision made more clear by other senses.  

I hope I can learn to see like that more often.