Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Do Not Know Thirst

Warm water splatters over the rim of the sink and onto my shirt as I wash dishes from various meals, snacks and drinks. The drops soak in, serving no purpose. Wasted. The TV is loud over the air conditioning as the girls take a break after camp. On the counter there are half empty sport bottles and an old can of la Croix from the night before. Still some in it. Flat and warm. Wasted.

Today is the hottest day of the season so far. My car's outdoor thermometer registered 99 degrees during our extended time in it today. But the ac kept us comfortable, strong, healthy.

I typed up and printed Cate's flyers as the girls enjoyed some cupcakes they made last night. We had everything you needed to make these treats, these non-essential foods.

I scurry around to clean the house in preparation for Cate's birthday slumber party. It's not a big house and it's not in particularly pristine condition, but it's ours. And we have enough to welcome others into it and offer them food, water, shelter from the heat.

Still, I do complain. I do sometimes feel like I pulled the short straw. I do not count blessings every moment of the day. Sometimes I am so focused on other things, I find it difficult to identify even a single one. I know I am at my worst at those times.

But the fact is, I am rich beyond the wildest dreams... of many, too many. Rich beyond the dreams of those without homes, without shelter, without water to drink during this week-long spell of debilitating heat. These are not far-away people, they are my fellow citizens. I can walk to where they "live."

I obsessed this morning as I went for my run about whether I had consumed enough water, whether I was hydrated enough. For a run. For activity I choose to do, one that is optional. I switched from that worry, to wondering whether the water bottles I'd sent with the girls to camp were large enough, cold enough. But Cate has a phone, she could call if they got thirsty. And it would be no hardship to heed that call and bring extra water to the playground.

A friend alerted me an actual, urgent and current call for water - from a day shelter and resource center for homeless people. Some spend the day in the shelter and are left to their own devices at night. Without any water to drink. Water they need just to live, not to run or play or go to camp or do optional, discretionary, recreational things. Water to continue to stand, breathe, move. Water to live.

We dropped off a couple cases today. Cate delivered flyers asking neighbors to consider donating. If they cannot make it to the shelter themselves, we will bring theirs with us on our trip down tomorrow to deliver more.

I have never truly been hungry. I do not know what thirst really feels like. I do not fully grasp the life and death dangers of dehydration for myself or my family. I have never been on the inside of that kind of risk.

But that's where some among us live out every day.

"The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life." Jane Addams


Annette said...

I read your post earlier today about water and you had me thinking about this. I even gave the mailman some water while waited for him to arrive. Now you have me thinking about this even more. Amazing how you can put these thoughts down so quickly. Well written as always.

Joan Roehre said...

Terri- this post has touched my heart and soul! We all take for granted our freshwater, seemingly infinite water supply and yet so many struggle for this basic human need. I have carried water with the women of Guatemala and a life focus, passion, mission of mine is clean, safe water access. My work in Central America makes me think every single day how blessed I am. Thank you for this heartfelt post.