Guilt

I know it’s been awhile, but it was a tough week.

I have social guilt today. I think it may be a form of survivor guilt. This morning I dropped the kids off at daycare so I could go to work and look after people. All the way there, I had a knot in my gut, knowing I was leaving my children to be looked after by someone else so I could go to work and do what I do. It seemed wrong, somehow.

Then I heard on the radio about how four children (15, 14, and 2 12-year olds) have been arrested and charged with murdering a woman by beating her to death in a random act of violence, in my own city. At 2:45 am. I started wondering where their parents were and what the hell the kids were doing out at that hour, but quickly realized that it doesn’t really matter. Someone is dead, that’s what matters.

Then I got to work and learned that there is a project here to improve access to palliative care for pediatric patients. That made me sad, the idea that there are families facing the death of a little kid. I want to cry. How do they carry on?

Then I heard about a 27 year old patient of a colleague who was diagnosed when her baby was 6 weeks old, and who died in the last few days. Her baby is now 4 months. So far this week, we have had 6 patients die. I was mentioned in an obit this week, but it was small consolation; he was a nice guy, and now his wife is a widow.

Then, after a long day, I heard on the way home about a seven year old, found in an Edmonton apartment, alone with the body of his dead father, where he’d been for as long as two days, trying to decide what to do, I guess. He is the same age as my kids. His mother died a few years ago. It is an unspeakably sad story.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of world I have brought my children into. There’s a not-unreal threat of nuclear war happening. There are Canadian soldiers dying almost daily (another post, I think). There are foster kids living in hotels because their homes aren’t safe, and there are no safe homes to send them to. Our food makes us sick, and our classrooms are thinly disguised babysitting services for future criminals.

Then, we have a full family giggle throwing sticky Halloween creatures made of some sort of grotesque gel at the ceiling and watching them stick (one just fell and splatted on the floor beside me, scaring the crap out of me). I watch my son, safe and secure in his little world, because he’s never had any reason not to be, count down the days to Halloween and unlimited candy. His unbridled joy at an early snowstorm (he was outside “shovelling” yesterday at 7:00 am, and never did come in before school), reminds me I need to step back and think about the things that are good. They are healthy, and normal kids. I am a responsible professional who is also a student, and who is happily married, to their father (all remarkable, these days). I am setting a good example for them. They have a comfortable, warm, secure home. They know they are loved, and have a long list of people who love them. Maybe we’re not doing such a bad job after all. This is where the survivor guilt comes in. I live a charmed life, although you know I am too superstitious to list the things I am thankful for. But I think about them, believe me. Especially on days like today.

To qualify that though, I still think the world sucks. Murder for sport, sexual activity for friendship and popularity, global pissing contests, a planet whose resources will not be able to sustain its population within my lifetime. I guess my only hope is that my example is enough to guide my children towards choices that might actually move us away from all of that. These kids have the potential to do whatever they want. They could make it worse, but they could easily become citizens who make it better. At the moment, they seem to be leaning toward the latter, unlike some of their friends. I know that could change at any second, so we need to maintain the constant vigilance for doing the right thing. Hopefully it works. Anyway, it’s all we can do, right?

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About therapeuticrambling

I am a wife, a mom, a nurse, a writer. I enjoy laughing.
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One Response to Guilt

  1. d says:

    I am humbled. Beautiful piece.

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