Bite Me is not a challenge but an utterance of contempt and disgust. While I’ve never said that phrase to anyone I’ve certainly had the opportunity and occasion and now is another one of those moments. Life can be so hard sometimes, so unfair, so unbalanced and so shocking in it’s cruelty and when I come face to face with it I’m really a bit of a wimp. My general defense method is to get into bed with some cookies and my dog and wait for the hard stuff to pass. Yesterday I saw life being so mean and unfair and hard to other people that I was tempted to whip out both middle fingers and growl, “Bite Me!” to the world at large. Not as a challenge, but just as a general proclamation of disgust and contempt.
There is this delightful little woman in a different department at my workplace. She is friendly and cheerful and always full of pride in her large family. One of her daughters has 7 sons. Yep, 7. All boys! A set of triplets included. This little gramma beams with joy when talking about them all, shows off their pictures and radiates pride and love and tenderness for her daughter as well as all those grandsons. Yesterday I saw her and she showed me a newspaper clipping. I looked at it, smiled as I saw the photo of an adorable toddler, then realized immediately it was an obituary notice. One of her grandsons had died. One of the toddler triplets. A horrible accident, a dresser, and now one little light gone from this world. I couldn’t help but cry a little as I talked with her. About 6 years ago now, a very close friend of mine lost her toddler daughter when the same thing happened: a dresser fell on top of her and crushed her. I grieved with my friend for the loss of her daughter, and I grieve now for my coworker for the loss of her grandson and for the pain she feels as she sees her daughter cope with losing a child. And I think to myself, Life? Bite me.
Please bolt your dressers to the wall. Your TV’s too.
When I first started working in my department I heard about Kay. Kay did things this way and Kay did things that way and Kay was wonderful and Kay was sweet and Kay was – well, Kay was promoted and transferred and I never met her until more than a year had passed. Kay was my oldest daughters age and, as promised, was sweet and kind and smart. She’d worked there before me for years, had started as a teenager and grown into the position as well as grown into the hearts of the management. Kay also had cancer. She’d had to quit to undergo chemo and to try and heal and when she was ready to work again she came back to her original position and I got to know her. This sweet young girl, 23, wearing a cap to cover her newly sprouting hair, and I could see why so many people enjoyed her but our time to know each other was brief. She was doing well and returned to her own position about 8 months ago. Recently I asked about her and learned she’d relapsed, the cancer returned, she was doing chemo but losing ground rapidly. It seemed that her sweet young life, all 23 years of it, would not last much longer. Last night I heard she had just hours left. I thought about my own daughter – so young and vibrant, getting married in the spring, and I thought about having to watch her fade away like that to a disease I had no control over. I couldn’t bear to think of it. In my mind all I could manage was a double middle finger flip and a Bite Me!
There is hardness and loss and grief all over. I’ve had plenty of my own and I know more is to come – thats just how life is. I know things I’m currently going through that make people sad for me but death? Death of a child? That seems one of the cruelest ever. I will never understand that loss of innocence in a world so full of darkness and menace.
Go, hug your children. Get some cookies and a dog and huddle under the blankets for a while to heal your heart if you are sad. Go out in the sunshine and make joy if you are happy. Live if you can, as much as you can, as long as you can. Cuz life doesn’t hesitate to say Bite Me right back.