Well, the kittens are home! But we’re not. Turns out they weren’t as sick as we were led to believe … or they recovered nicely. And the “Mom” at the foster home from whence they came and to which they were returned called and said, “If you all are comfortable giving them their medicine, I really hate for you all to be missing kitten time.” We hated that too, and were fine with giving them their daily doses. And it was so nice to have their furry presence back. Good news.
Then came the not so good news … the bad news—the terrible, horrible no good news …. We discovered bed bugs. I hope you know nothing of these. I know now far more than I ever wanted to. I do hope you know nothing, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that you probably need to know something. In the last couple of weeks, several of the more exclusive stores in NYC have had to shut down due to these—critters. They’ve been found in movie theaters, colleges, libraries. In the posh upper East End of NYC, terminators enter fancy homes disguised as plumbers (there’s a certain [unwarranted!] stigma attached to the presence of these pests). They’re listed as a problem on the Baltimore City Department of Health website with a designated hot-line (though not yet mentioned on the county’s Department of Health website). The exterminators we’ve talked to are all saying, “They’re back!”
One particular representative, after saying how sorry he was for us, how he wouldn’t wish these on anyone, went on to say this is a life-changing—a life-changing experience (It occurred to me that’s what I say about church [it’s a life-changing experience]; he’s saying that about pests. I hope there’s a big difference!).
So, this is going to involve bagging up our whole house, throwing away anything that can be thrown away (that’s not all bad!), throwing everything that can be thrown into dryer into the dryer on high for an hour or so (heat kills these suckers), inspecting and bagging everything else (including books)—hoping you don’t miss any signs!, buying a steamer or a heat chamber (or both) to treat anything and everything that can’t go in the dryer, taking apart the beds, emptying drawers, turning furniture upside down, taking the plates off the electrical outlets, exposing all the light sockets, then (and only then) having the exterminators come in to lay down three separate treatments over a four-week time period (that’s a month, mind you, of upside down furniture and taken apart beds!).
I’ve got (self-diagnosed) stress-induced ADD (if this is not an official diagnosis yet, I want future credit). I have been completely overwhelmed at the task ahead of us, have engaged in primal scream therapy (in the car … so I’m not sure how primal it can be in the car … well, hmmm, okay … never mind!), am tallying up the rapidly rising costs of this—this life-changing event—in disbelief, live with the horrific possibility of transferring this curse, have had a conversation with our neighbors (we live in a town home) none of us wanted to have, am much more bitter about Noah not doing more to improve the lot of humankind when he had the chance (a friend of mine said, “You don’t even believe in Noah. You can’t be mad at him!” Laying aside the overly broad generalization about who and what I do and don’t believe in [I once said in a sermon … actually, I never once said I didn’t believe in Noah. What I said was that I didn’t believe God sent the flood (like I don’t believe God sent these bed bugs!) … but that’s something else entirely]), anyway, I can be mad at whoever I want to be!
In the midst of this new dimension to my understanding of hell, there has been the experience of the girls. “We get to go to a hotel? With a pool? Yay!” “We’re going to stay at our friends’ house? Yay!” “We’re going to spend all morning at the pool? Yay!”
That’s actually why I posted that poem yesterday—remembering with gratitude the gift my parents gave me and my siblings when we were children—the gift we try and give our children now. We’ll do the worrying; you enjoy the ride. The girls are beginning to long for their rooms—their beds—the kittens, and we still have a long road ahead of us, but so far it’s been an adventure, and the next stage is already in place. “We’re going to stay at Nana and Papa’s? Yay!”
In addition, there have been all the friends and family who have been horrified with and for us—called us—commiserated with us—opened their homes to us (that’s a risky one, isn’t it!)—said they would try and find a house for us—entertain the girls—come get the girls—take in the kittens (allow us visiting rights so we won’t completely miss out on a month of kitten time)—feed us. There have been all those who have cared for us. We’ve laughed (laughed!) with some of you—including the family with whom we’re staying—suggesting we should just formally move in together and claim our house as the corporate asset that ate our corpors—or, more colloquially, that et our asses!
As a growing concern in our cities, I know there are any number of people for whom the steps we’re taking simply wouldn’t be an option. They don’t have any financial resources. They don’t have a flexible job. They don’t have a spouse not working during the summer. They don’t have friends and family willing to reach out and help.
Don’t get me wrong. This sucks. This sucks big time. It is and is going to be a huge burden. But even in the midst of, as I mentioned, a new dimension to my understanding of hell, there are the connections and relationships that make of even this so heavy a burden something a little lighter.