Once again, I’ve been absent for a bit…nearly 3 weeks, according to the helpful stats provided by this site. The time seems to pass more quickly now, as it always does this time of year. Maybe it’s the shorter days and the lack of daylight.
That’s not to say the time hasn’t been full. We had a wonderful and long-awaited visit from my sister and brother in law last week. Although, as I’ve done with other guests, I struggled with my desire to give them a “perfect” visit. I want people to have fun, to see the city as I do, to experience some off-the-beaten-path secrets of Amsterdam. I don’t want anyone to leave with regrets, things unseen. And so I probably err on the side of over-scheduling, and end up running my guests ragged, when they would be just as happy to sit in a cozy café with a beer or two. Lesson learned.
The weeks between my posts have also brought some sadness, on both a global and personal level. Along with the rest of the world, we watched events unfold in Paris last Friday night, and saw a much-loved city under siege. I generally steer clear of politics here, and I have no particular wisdom to offer up. I have only the hope that we (and our leaders) have learned from the mistakes of the past when it comes to our response to terror; that we choose to turn away from fear and allow the more generous parts of ourselves to direct our actions.
On that same awful Friday, I learned that a colleague – a young, vibrant, and warm woman – had gone into premature labor. Her baby was delivered safely but she had a health crisis and fell into a coma. She passed away on Monday evening. Only a week earlier, I had commuted home with her, as I often did. It was her last day of work and she was excited about starting maternity leave. She and her husband were scheduled to move to a new home and were ready to welcome their child.
It is unbelievable to me that she is gone. To die in childbirth is something from another time, at least in the developed world. I know too well that maternal mortality globally is a critical issue, and that giving birth is, in some places, a very dangerous undertaking. But here? In Amsterdam? In 2015?
These losses – a colleague, safety (real or perceived), time, balance – accumulate. Sometimes it seems that there is little we can say to lighten the burden. Maybe it is enough to be present – with ourselves and with others – and let our presence speak.