I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘guilt’

Good Grief, Tiger

On September 25, 2012, I pulled into my driveway later than usual. I emerge from my car, tired and ready to put the day to rest. Then I heard him. A bit freaked out, I run inside, but my curiosity got the best of me. He had followed me to the door and was meowing outside very loudly. I found a can of tuna and some water, then put them outside. “Ugh,” I thought. I had never grown up with any kind of pet. I had wanted one, of course, but my parents said they were too much responsibility. As an adult, I saw how my friends with pets had to seemingly shape their lives around their pets and was now thankful that I had never had to deal with any additional burden. Young single and free, y’all! Now this animal is meowing and pawing at the door of my free. I went to bed, half-hoping he would be gone in the morning, half-hoping he would greet me before I left for work.

Y’all already know.

ImageAs you can see, Tiger is not a fan of the flash. He turned out to be very friendly, which, from what I understood, could be unusual for a cat. I loved coming home each day and Tiger would be waiting, in front of the garage. “Where’s my dinner,” he seemed to say. I gave him food and love and became attached to him quickly. I soon learned that Tiger liked to roam, for one day a few weeks later, I didn’t see him. The next day, I didn’t see him. The day after, he returned like nothing happened. I was so relieved! I suppose he wanted to condition me because it took me a few more times before I stopped freaking out whenever he went on one of his trips.

This past week, I hadn’t seen him for a while. I never was sure where or what he was eating, but he always looked well when he returned. Off to my family reunion I went, knowing that my cousin was going to take care of him and make sure there was food out. Not seeing him last night, unmoved, I went to bed.

“Joan. Tiger died.”

The words from my mother this morning hit me like a ton of bricks. She explained that my father had found him on the road. He had been hit by a car. I think they must have called animal services or something and they buried him. I knew that it was going to take a while before I really started to understand that he’s not coming back. I’ve been looking at pictures and videos I took of him doing his favorite things – making the lives of lizards miserable, playing with other cats, and walking through the garden.

It’s funny, because grief is something with which I am quite familiar – in terms of experiencing death. I have a very large family. In fact, I was saying just yesterday that I was pleased that no one in my family had died this year. I had not had a year free of a family death since 2008 and I’ve been praying that everyone would be healthy and happy. Now my Tiger is gone. I can’t believe he won’t get excited for a treat again. That I won’t have to actually start my car to get him to move from on top of the roof. That I won’t hear his soft, sweet meow and feel him purr as I touch him.

Thanks for coming into my life, Tiger. It was way too short. I will never forget you.

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Least of These or Lying Heffa?

At the gas station:

“Ma’am! My car ran out of gas. It’s parked over there (a significant distance away from any pump). I need to get from here (Fort Lauderdale) to Jupiter. Can you help me?”

Why, yes. I maintain a blog. I look forward to reminding everyone what a fantastic woman I am because I helped you.

Of course, my real response was nothing like that, though clearly, the situation has moved me to write. I thought to myself, I have means, this woman is in a jam, why wouldn’t I help? I had already decided I was going to assist before I looked down and noticed she was pregnant as hell. She looked tired and thirsty. I gave her a bottle of water I happened to have and assured her I would help her reach her destination.

Then she kept talking.

“Yeah, my mom is on her way to come bring me a gas container.”

Game changer.

Now, I am fully aware that by most standards, I have never had a bad day in my 29 years. When I have a problem, it’s like, “measures 9-14 of that sonata are a beast” or “my massage therapist is out of town for a month!” Woe is me. I also know that this could change at any moment, so I make a conscious effort to walk humbly and live graciously. Of course I could help this woman. This new information, however, brought in a should.

I asked her when her mother would be arriving. She said she wasn’t quite sure. The woman appeared to be about my age. I just found it strange that a mother who could bring a container of gas couldn’t also bring a bit of cash to fill up the container. Or otherwise help her daughter reach her destination. I told the lady I would return in a minute with some assistance. I got in my car, where my two young cousins were waiting for me. They had heard what was going on.

“Joanie. What are you going to do?”

So like, not only is God watching, but here I am, off the clock and needing to set an example for the youth. I’m just a sista tryna fill up and get home and now I’m presented with a dilemma. Fie.

I thought to myself, there’s this:

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NKJV)

But then there’s this:

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16 NKJV)

I don’t think the two contradict one another at all. Jesus wants us to care for those who have less than we do. That doesn’t mean He wants us to be dumbasses about it. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s morally wrong to be irresponsible with the resources with which He’s blessed us. As a good steward, it’s my job to ensure that I’m sharing both as lovingly and wisely as possible.

For some, this situation might be clearer than it was for me. “Lady J, how could you even think about not giving this woman help?” Alternatively, “Wow. I can’t believe that chick is using her baby to hustle people. Don’t let her getcha!” I thought about what would bother me more – knowing that I could help her and chose not to OR being tricked out of some cash. Yes, I’m blessed, but I work pretty bloody hard to make it rain all this teacher’s salary. In the end, I gave her what I thought would be helpful. She thanked me as I left.

I chose to do so because I could NEVER know if she was trying to get free gas, but I would most definitely know that I had means to help and didn’t. I figured that erring on the side of fool rather than jerk was better in this case.

I strongly believe that the way in which we’re moved in situations like these is reflected in our political philosophies.
Whether we find it more disturbing that an innocent person is punished or a guilty person does not get what’s coming to him. Personally, if I have to be wrong – and I’m human, so it’s going to happen every now and again – I’d prefer that a couple pregnant hustlers treat themselves to a beer than even one woman not be able to care for herself and her child as she should.

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