• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Paths That Cross Will Cross Again

The lights came back on today. Joy. We were only inconvenienced. Nothing more. I keeping thinking about the woman whose two young children were swept away from her when their street flooded. There was so much devastation, many lives lost. But it’s that woman I think of, the biblical scope of her loss. The universal fear: letting go of what we love, having it taken from us. Great waves of loss sweep through our lives. My father. My sister. Then Tom by his own hand.  I break this silence with news of the worst sort. Friends, writers, aunts, heroes. You don’t think: this. This storm. This tree twisted off at the trunk as easy as a soda cap. When the lights came on I walked through the house as if I were being led through by a realtor, noting every room for its particular charm. Yes, that molding is lovely, just lovely.  In the small library, a reading light cast a halo on the couch, and in its glow a book with a marker somewhere in the middle.

Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes and the incredible community of people who are this blog. I hope everyone is safe, life starting to resume, writing grabbing you by the throat. Love, Betsy

42 Responses

  1. Finding out that Betsy and MSB were OK was my best moment, but this post about what it’s like for a teacher to go back to the classroom and talk to her students post-Sandy is my second favorite:

    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/the-first-day-in-the-classroom-post-sandy/

  2. It just show you, one day at a time and be thankful for it.

  3. The woman who lost her two children has haunted me, too. I don’t know how she’ll ever be able to breathe again.

    • She’ll probably never truly breathe properly again.
      If this were me and I chose to stay on this planet, I’d probably spend the rest of my days doing hard drugs. All this love & loss & random devastation in life…
      The expectations of our human condition seriously confuse me.

  4. Thankful you are okay and that your life is returning to normal. Makes a person thankful for so many things…

  5. Thank you, Betsy.

  6. Love to you too… bird on a wire.

  7. Today I composed a poem – the first one in sixty days. In my situation, the past two months have been a sad embrace of all manner of loss. Now, it is important for me to fill those empty spaces: whether by verse, color or action my focus is determinedly away from despair. Wishing all a better week, too.

  8. Those 2 young children. Yes. Here’s to the lights.

  9. Every week, twice or three times, we travelled to Childrens Hospital. Halls overflowed with kids dressed in purple rimmed eyes, gray from medicine that saves and kills. I recognized mothers I had never seen. Was 90 backed up this morning or what? Hand sanitizer at the ready for after magnetic car table fun, after touching the chairs. Insurance card. Don’t put your fingers in your mouth. Fill this out. Little people twisted and broken curled on plywood carts painted red. Don’t look away. Da da da da Elmo’s World! Just snatch her up and run. Rolling IV towers. Buzzing fluorescent lights. No malignancy. Crying. You have to let it go. I can’t. You must.

  10. Unimaginable losses indeed. I’m thankful you and yours are safe Betsy.

  11. Best wishes. So terrifying, so biblical.

  12. We are an incredible community here, aren’t we?. I feel privileged to be a member. Sometimes I have the yard everybody’s pets shit on; but it makes my flowers spectacular. Thanks Betsy.

    The scope of loss for some is unimaginable.

    • Actually I don’t feel shit on here, it was just a ‘little-darling’.

      • So there will be no misunderstanding regarding my ‘shit-on’ comment. I was trying to be funny. When you have to explain ‘funny’, it doesn’t work. A hundred times over, this is a wonderful place in which to express ourselves.
        Thanks to Betsy for letting us in.

  13. Places of great loss can still be home.

  14. May each of you find home with the lamp on and a bookmark to show you where to begin again.

  15. A word comes to mind reading some of the comments offered today…, lyrical. Such talent – even when just replying to your post.

    I saw a picture of that woman’s face, head covered by a blanket (?) and the shock of her loss was so plain to see. It gave me shivers.

    The last time we lost power, and finally got it back, I recollect walking around the house and discovering lights that had been left on days ago. It’s funny how you can recall exactly what you were doing in that moment when they flickered and finally gave up, like moments captured from the past.

  16. Beautiful, haunting post.

  17. Even worse: The woman whose kids were swept away supposedly knocked on doors asking for help when she first got stuck. People shut the door in her and her kids faces. I prayed that was just something the reporters made up because I cannot bear that scenario, that thought. I want to rewrite those moments for that woman and her children.

    See…what really happened was she knocked on doors in a panic as the waters were rising and someone–a kind older man, say? a single mother?–swung the door open wide and said, “Hurry! You and your boys get in quickly. You’re safe here.” And they became lifelong friends. The triter the better.

    Please!

    Glad you are safe and well and got your power back, Miss B.

    With love and lights,
    Mari

    • You don’t have the whole story:

      The mother left the safety of her home on high ground — yes, she was safe on high ground — in Staten Island during the heart of the storm to drive straight into an evacuation zone, into a flooded area in the pitch black of night. OK, so she panicked when the lights went out, maybe, and tried to drive to her relatives in Brooklyn across the Verazzano Bridge, which she somehow didn’t know was shut down to traffic anyway.

      And she allegedly knocked on doors AFTER the kids were swept away, in an emptied-out neighborhood where homeowners had been ordered to leave well in advance of the storm, and where it would have been suicide to venture out into the maelstrom. Don’t be too quick to judge the people — strangers, with their own families and children and dependents and life expectancies — who did not jump at the chance to throw themselves into flood waters during a killer hurricane during a blackout.

  18. Sorry for this self-serving comment but many of you jumped on and read my updated blog post. I just wanted to say that for awhile only half of it had been posted. Sorry. I guess only half my brain is working this Monday.
    And…I also apologize for interjecting my stupid error into these very eloquent comments.

  19. Beautiful post. I wish a speedy recovery for you and the whole area.

  20. “That moulding is lovely.” The gratitude for simple beauty is a gift for those who survive a tragedy. The unbearable grief of a mother who literally could not hold onto her children leaves a wound that will never heal. “Writing grabbing you my the throat:” a way to stumble through all of it.
    Thank you, Betsy.

  21. I am Rebecca, and I’m not anonymous.

  22. Glad you weathered the storm okay. An inconvenience is an apt description, a major inconvenience. I can’t begin to imagine the pain the woman who lost her children is feeling, a cry shattering the night, heart shredded like ripped apart meat, and eyes that will never forget the beauty that was and the horror that is.

  23. Glad you are well, despite those damned hungry waves.

  24. Well said and beautiful too.

  25. We got power two hours ago! Lights! Heat! I’m still wearing the clothes that I slept in last night — the only way to keep warm when it’s 42 degrees in your house — but the clothes that I LIVED in last week are in the dryer. Washer! Dryer! Internet!

    Crap. Candlelight is a lot more forgiving of my housekeeping than the harsh light of reality.

    We bailed off of Long Island on Saturday and headed to Atlantic City for a hot shower and Chinese food. My north shore neighborhood looks worse than A.C., by the way (not a single gas line, didn’t see a single house caved in by a downed tree) and we couldn’t have been happier for our favorite Jersey Shore town.

  26. I wish you’d write poetry again. If for no other venue than this blog. Your prose is haunting. I eat up every word.

    Welcome back.

  27. We’re still without power. Through the kindness of a stranger we were able to get our hands on a generator which we use for a couple of hours right before bedtime to warm the house and check our emails. My neighbors kids will be over in a little while to sleep and soak up some of the warmth. Their home registers in the mid 50’s right now and most of our neighborhood is still in blackness. It’s totally surreal because a lot of our town is getting back to normal. They’ve got their power back. They’re stocking their fridges. I just knocked on another neighbor’s house. Her kids are huddled in the basement. I told her we have room but she’s a stubborn type. She said she heard power isn’t coming back for another week and rumour has it another storm is headed our way. I’m so grateful for the warmth. It makes me wonder how many people are out there without it.

    Sleep well, everyone. And thank you for being here.

    • Our prayers are with you. I wish you light and heat and glorious warmth…the kind which warms the soul and body. Oh sorry, you already have that. Hang in babe, better days are coming.

  28. what a beautiful post, Betsy.

  29. Keep yourself safe, Betsy. In such a circumstance, you continue posting, thinking of us. It’s nice. Many thanks.

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