Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Real Thing

"Reality TV" is about the only thing that 's left of TV these days, and like yester-year's soap operas, it's easy to become addicted.  Though I'm not really a TV watcher, I love learning, and medicine intrigues me; "Trauma: Life in the ER" is one of my guilty pleasures.  As I watch I am struck by the unique nature of each story -- patients and their families, dedicated doctors and nurses, innocent and not so innocent victims -- but at the same time, am desensitized to the reality of it all.  Just like reading a good book and internally growing to dislike the antagonist, it's the "not so innocent" that give me pause.

Time after time gangbangers and thugs lay sprawled on the tables of inner city OR's, close to death while medical professionals work furiously to keep them alive and family members pray fervently for a miracle.  Tattoos show gang affiliations and their injuries reek of violent confrontations.  Families weep and shriek when struck with the news their loved one has died or will not see the next day.  "Did they not see this coming?" I wonder.  "Live by the sword, die by the sword."  And while this may all be true, it never prepares a family for the tragic, brutal death of someone loved.  My thoughts may keep me safe at night; they may harden me to the possibilty I will be fervently praying for a miracle one day, but they do not accurately reflect the sorrow and turmoil of that family.  Add to their pain, my judgment which serves only me --  to make me different from them, better than them -- and no one can possibly comprehend their experience.

A neighbor's son was murdered Saturday night.  A young man.  A boy, in my memory, with whom my son Steven had his share of problems.  A mother with whom I'd had my share, because of our sons.  I just spoke with her last week or so as I was walking the dogs.  Time had passed, I didn't know if she knew where her son was, anymore than I know where mine is today.  We talked about Bishop -- he was her cousin's dog before he came to live with us -- and made small talk like neighbors do.  We wished each other a blessed day, and we meant it.  Last night I cried for her.  There are no "sides;" there is no "safe."  I could be her, right now.  To lose a child, to get that call...  How can I judge?  Our sons have made their choices and there is nothing we can do, but it doesn't mean that we ever stop hoping and praying.  It doesn't erase or appease that sense of loss.  In some ways, it's really just a culmination, as we experience that loss each and every time we come face to face with their violent choices and their hopeless paths.  It doesn't negate the love, no matter what the end, and it certainly doesn't force us to forfeit our need for compassion and understanding. 

Reality TV may make it easy to judge or shake our heads from the comfort of our sofas, but the "real" reality is what -- or Who -- is in our hearts.
Post a Comment