Last week our family had a very bad day. If something had the potential of going wrong it seemed as though it was actually going to happen. Things began normally much as they always do and then suddenly it felt as though we had been selected to be the grand prize participants in a nightmare. Nobody was untouched by some form of difficulty.
I had taken my second dose of the Shingrix vaccine with a warning that I might have a bit of soreness at the injection site and perhaps a few chills and or fever. The first injection had been rather easy so I assumed that I would be fine the second time around. Boy, was I wrong! Before all was said and done I had a knot the size of a lemon on my arm, a temperature of 102.4 F, chills, nausea, a massive headache and a malaise that sent me to bed for most of the day. Given that there are still cases of COVID 19 popping up even among those who have been fully vaccinated I found myself worrying that perhaps I had become too lax in my precautions and had somehow contracted the virus. Surely the side effects of a vaccine would not be as severe as mine were.
While I was nursing my reactions my granddaughter was traveling with a group of students and a teacher to a veterinary medicine competition in north Texas. Along the way they passed a tornado tracker who urged them to turn back and find cover. They were driving right into the center of a storm that would create destruction all along the southern United States. My granddaughter kept us apprised of their situation while we sat helplessly on pins and needles hoping that they would soon enough find a safe haven.
On the same evening there were hailstorms all over central and north Texas. My grandson who is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University had his brand new car, the first one that he had ever purchased, parked in front of his apartment. It was a beautiful car and a source of pride for him because it represented the culmination of many years of hard work and studying. After the storms passed he found his one month old vehicle pocked with about one hundred quarter sized dents from the hail that had beaten down on it.
Meanwhile another adopted grandson was on his way to school when he was stopped for going five miles over the speed limit in a downhill area that caused him to accelerate without even placing his foot on the pedal. Of course he got a ticket and was late for classes only to find out that there was a conflict in two extra curricular activities for which he has been training and practicing for months.
While running around the neighborhood as he routinely does each day my son-in-law tripped and skinned his arm from the elbow down to the wrist. He injured a hand that had been broken before and had required surgery. He wondered if he was going to have to endure the same sort of pain and inconvenience once again.
Finally two other grandsons were bitten by the remote learning bug and those horrific deadlines that time out sometimes before the work can be properly submitted. With only two months more of high school classes they were both suddenly looking at averages unlike anything they have ever before seen.
Of course there is nothing fatal here, nothing so horrific that it cannot be overcome or repaired. I slowly recovered from the horrible side effects of the shingles vaccine. Now I should not have to worry about contracting that painful illness so my couple of days being under the weather were a small price to pay. My granddaughter made it to the safety of a hotel with instructions to get into the bathtub if a tornado warning sounded on her phone. My grandson has contacted his insurance company and the damage to his car will be repaired. The ticket for speeding is just one of those very annoying things. My son-in-law will heal. The grandsons with a touch of “senioritis” have learned a lesson in time management that will serve them well as they head off to college next fall. Still, it felt as we were all having one of those “Alexander terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.”
Sometimes life gives us almost more than we think we can bear but in retrospect we realize that our woes are not nearly as bad as they seemed at first to be. In truth we were all somewhat lucky on that day last week. The things that happened to us might have been far worse. In the grand scheme of things they were annoyances rather than full blown tragedies, reminders that our lives are actually rather good because we have the resources to recover from such things.
I spent some time recently talking with a young man from Vietnam. He immigrated to the United States a few years back because of the possibilities that living here afford him. He told me that sometimes on our very worst days here in America it is still so much better than in many parts of the world. He said that he has great sympathy for those attempting to enter our borders and that most of us do not truly understand the desperation that they are feeling. We have days when things look so bleak but people all over the world have an endless parade of hardships that we might never be able to imagine. We had the good fortune of being born in a place of freedom and opportunity. There is nothing terrible, horrible, no good, very bad about that and it’s time we felt gratitude for our luck and understanding for those who do not have it.