Saturday, April 18, 2015

Butterfly Effect

One of my favorite sights of spring is the arrival of the butterflies. Butterflies, those amazing creatures who are utterly transformed from lowly caterpillars into colorful, winged beauties, are wonderful symbols of resurrection.  Their cocoons are the tombs from which they emerge into glorious new life. Butterflies remind me that death has been conquered, once and for all, and that someday we, too, will get our wings. And they remind me of something else as well…

Have you heard of the “butterfly effect”? The theory that the slightest flap of a butterfly’s wings ripples on and on and impacts the weather in a far distant location at a much later date? While the flap doesn’t directly cause, say, the tornado, it is one of the first conditions that set everything in motion, ending with the tornado. If the flap had not occurred, things would not have gone in the exact same direction. So even tiny things matter. They matter a lot.

The butterfly effect is an idea that reminds us that we are all connected, everything and everyone on earth, and that all of our actions have re-actions that extend far, far beyond us—for good or ill. Dropping trash on the ground matters, because too many people have done too much damage to our planet.  Hurting another person matters to every person, because the harm caused diminishes us all. We are so deeply interconnected, and most often we don’t even see it. So we go on acting as if what we do has no impact, when in fact the very opposite is true.

This week a dear friend of our family was dealt a crushing blow. The sister-in-law of Julie’s boyfriend Stephen, Cathy Montoya, was brutally murdered in a home invasion in Atlanta, GA. I never had the privilege of meeting Cathy, but she was by all accounts an extraordinary woman: political activist, totally committed to immigrant, LGBTQ, civil and human rights. At age 38, Cathy left the world in the middle of her life, with so very much left undone. And yet…

Just maybe her short time spent on earth will be like that flap of a butterfly’s wing, that will ripple on and on and affect many lives far down the road, in ways we can’t even imagine. And, as many will attest, Cathy’s affect will be like the flap of the wings of a kaleidoscope of butterflies, touching the world in myriad, wonderful ways for many decades to come. She will live on in the memory of her beloved wife Meredith, in the memory of all whose lives she touched.

So this season, when you catch a glimpse of a Monarch or a Swallowtail hovering over the flowers, please think of Cathy and remember this: Whatever we do, whatever we say, matters. It all matters. So let us be the flap of a butterfly’s wing. Let us set positive change in motion. We can do it. We can.

May God bless the Cabell and Montoya families.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fiercely Dependent

I was walking with my friend Sherri yesterday morning, and a topic of conversation was the age difference between me and Steve (8 years). We commented on the arc of such a relationship: (ages 18
Us (ahem) several years ago
and 26? Issue! Ages 35 and 43? Non-issue! Ages 58 and 66? Issue again!) Although I will do my very best to die the same day he does (thus ensuring us a heartwarming feature on Action News), I have to face the fact that I will probably have some years alone down the road. And it got me thinking. What does Steve do for me that, someday, I will have to learn to do for myself?

Where do I begin?

Steve is the resident handyman, laying kitchen floors and installing light fixtures with aplomb. Sherri told me yesterday of a woman she knows who hires someone to hang pictures on her wall. I pretended to be shocked at this, while at the same time saying to myself, “So? What’s the problem?” Steve resurfaces the driveway in spring, shovels it in winter, and does any gardening (admittedly not much) that is done on the Seyfried property. 

Steve is the long (and even short) distance driver. When we were on the road on our children’s theatre tour of the Northeast (1979-80) he literally drove every mile. I was charged with being the (abysmally inept) navigator. But he didn’t really need me to give him directions as he ALWAYS knew how to get where we were going, even if we’d never been there before. Nowadays, I blame my (abysmal) eyesight as I lean on my sweet hubby to drive Julie or Rose to their NYC-bound trains in Trenton, to go out for groceries when there is ice and snow. What will become of me when I have to ferry myself around? Not ready to find out!

Steve pays the bills and balances the checkbook. Steve battles with Blue Cross on the phone when they won’t cover our college kids’ doctor visits away from home. Steve goes up into our scary attic to find this or that box of whatever that I suddenly decide I need to go through. Years ago I was able to navigate the rickety pull-down stairs myself, but one day as I climbed I was met by a squirrel, its mouth full of Sheridan’s kindergarten drawings, and I was so shocked I nearly fell backward. That was the end of my attic exploring. Haven’t had squirrels up there in a decade, but you never know!!!  Better safe than sorry!! Better depend on Steve!!
Us, a couple of years ago

We none of us know our last day on earth, so it behooves us to be prepared, and to be as independent as possible for as long as possible.  Clearly, I have a looong ways to go to be ready to be out on my own, and I fervently hope it will never happen. But just in case it does…

I wonder if Sherri knows the phone number of the picture hanger?