The circle of life - FamilyEducation

The circle of life

April 20,2011

I wasn't really prepared for the extent of the tornado damage on and around the campus where I teach. There was something so grotesque about the uprooted trees and the altered landscape. I've been driving the same route to work for nine years now and I hadn't ever really thought about how familiar the landscape had become to me. When you see it changed in sudden and catastrophic ways, it takes awhile for your mind to process the shock of it. I know people's lives were also changed in sudden and catstrophic ways and that the landscapes of their own worlds will never quite be the same again.

Leaving our neighborhood and driving into what looked like the aftermath of a bombing was jarring, to say the least. Our neighborhood is so intact--the only signs of last weekend's storms are the pieces of yellow and pink insulation scattered here and there around the neighborhood--so incongruous against the neatly mowed lawns and the blooming dogwood trees.

Life goes on.


Our little bunny Loopy died on Sunday, only about an hour after we pulled into our driveway after our trip. He collapsed while I was trying to move him from his travel carrier into his regular cage. Unfortunately, we had our own private and metaphorical tornado touchdown going on at the same time. L. has been having so much trouble with car trips lately, with comings and goings, with the ups and downs of anything emotional, and with frustrations and setbacks. I'm not sure what's going on to make things this bad. I'm also not sure what triggered this breakdown (the kids weren't aware of what was happening with the bunny), except that it was connected to his beloved laptop computer, the one my sister gave him. I suspect he channels his emotions through his computers, so while deep down inside of him he might have been torn up about leaving my parents' house, seeing my sister (who he has always had a close bond with) as a new mother, and worries about what we might find at home, he couldn't confront these--put them into the right "compartments" and they all exploded out of control when he couldn't get his laptop to boot-up correctly. I can't describe the awfulness of what we went through on Sunday--trying to contact the emergency vet, while L. stormed, incoherent and unstoppable, through the house. I tried to explain it to a friend yesterday and I just stopped, and felt inadequate. There were simply no words to describe that scene, and trying to speak about it just made me feel more cut-off.

When I got back home again from the 24-hour vet's office, empty-handed, our storm had passed, and both kids met me at the door. Loopy died, I told them. I'm so, so sorry.

After dinner T. and I took Willa for a walk, we stopped to look at some purple flowers by the side of the road. The air was soaked in the perfume of flowers and pine needles. We talked about  the circle of life--how it's a seemingly endless cycle of birth and death and birth and regrowth. And death. And birth again. T. nodded, and her face grew very wise and sad. She studied the purple flowers.

Back home, L. showed me his laptop. It's booting up! but the screen was dark. Still, he was immensely relieved to find that it was still functioning the way it was supposed to. The hard-drive was okay. Computers are safe for him--they are predictable, and unemotional; they don't ask much of him, and they almost always do what they're supposed to. L.'s world simply can't withstand the shock of their failure--it wrecks him, wholly.

I thought it was dead, he told me, the vestiges of his utter meltdown still shadowing the corners of his eyes and mouth. To show me the happy miracle of it all, he connected the laptop to the monitor in our office and sure enough, there was his computer's desktop--and the heart of the machine itself--alive and kicking again, glowing blue in the fading light of day.

The circle of life goes on, I thought.