Small but Mighty, Sunflower, Ukraine

Small But Mighty

Yesterday, I wore a big sunflower pin, lovingly crafted by my cousin and worn in solidarity with Ukraine.

On the ferry into Seattle an employee rushing by me stopped dead in her tracks, put a hand on her heart and said in what I can only believe was a Ukrainian accent, “Thank you.” I put my hand on my heart and said “I can do so little.” She showed me her Ukranian flag pin under her uniform. We silently stared at each other and tears ran down our cheeks.

An hour later at The Rack, a small woman bustled over to unlock a dressing room for me. As she was turning away she saw the sunflower on my jacket and stood stock still. Silently lifting her hands she showed me her arms. They were covered in goosebumps. Another accent, another thank you, we bent towards each other to air hug, our arms full of clothes, my face wet.

And then, another woman, stopping me and asking where she could get on of these pins. I said, “from me, give me your phone number and name.” She explained her friend and neighbor had just flown to Ukraine to try to get her parents out. I placed my hand on my heart. For the third time in as many hours that day I wept.

I cry for my helplessness, unable to begin to imagine what it must be like: to be here — watching what is happening — or there, running for your life. I weep for the venomous destruction of life. I wear this pin with anger, too.

My cousin is buying all the yellow and blue felt she can find today. We are rolling up our sleeves this weekend.

I have more work to do; a phone number to find out if the family made it out, for starters. I secured the attendant’s name at the cash register and plan to drop a pin off at the manager’s office for that little woman with the big heart. I will fill my pockets with pins and look for the employee on my next crossing so I can hand her a sunflower, and anyone else who asks.

Three woman I would never have known if not for three pieces of felt, needled together and pinned over my heart, to voice solidarity and recognition.

Never underestimate the small but mighty gesture.

A quiet tea amongst the disquiet.
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After the last three days, I have renamed this blog post:”Resuscitation Is The Only Option.”

 

Angelpic

What is the first thing that comes to your mind here?

Well I stopped and stared and thought a while and this being Seattle, I allowed the possibility that this tree was rescued from demise and a neighbor was thanking an unknown… but then, no. This felt like a human rescue, a heroic passerby that knew to administer CPR, a stranger that then stepped back onto the sidewalk when 911 arrived. So the rescued painted this sign and hung it at the roundabout — which made me think bicycle wreck– and perhaps the stranger kept walking when she or he saw all was stable.

No name, no license plate, no record of this angel. Just a momentous moment of taking action.

I have a friend here in the city that was hit by a car a few months ago, a mess of braking and slamming and somersaulting and then — blacking out — an inability to recall details. Rattled passerby gave conflicting accounts, uninterested policeman wrote a one-line report, the ensuing hours in Group Health made this a lingering PTSD-like experience that has made him reluctant to take his bike out of the shed, unable to piece together what has scarred him.

What makes us good passerby, rescuers, observers and in the greater picture, responsible for others? Recently I have been unable to articulate how to take care of others in the wake of So. Much. Carnage. Since Orlando. And Medina. And Baghdad. And now, Baton Rouge. I know, with horror, I am not listing all the blood shed since June. Guns and more guns and more fire and more violence.

What do I do, some fifty-something gal working on her writing sitting in her nest so far from so much?

I start by looking closely — at myself, at the people around me, at the moss on the north side of the great tree that shades me as I type. How to take action, starting with myself?

At the coffee shop a few days ago I saw a man hunched over on the bench outside, weeping into his cell phone. Without a second thought I lay my hands on his shoulders, held him and pressed a little love into him for a few seconds. Then I kept walking.

It was my turn to make sure he knew he was not alone. It wasn’t CPR but it was action. Take some.

 

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