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The Sock of No Help

Dear Kay,

The knitting you do when you’re worried. The knitting you do when you don’t know what’s going to happen next. The knitting you do when there’s no help to give.

Sound familiar? I was doing all three today, on one sock that wasn’t really up to the task.


A friend of my son came down with bacterial meningitis yesterday. He was with a group of his friends, my son Clif included, on a day that had been a brilliant summer afternoon of teenagers tubing on the river. Within hours of sunshine, scraped elbows, and supper, Clif’s friend was very, very sick.

This is the sort of shock that comes only out of the blue, hard and fast and ugly. No warning. You get the news, and your head spins. The mom of your son’s friend floats in your imagination—that brilliant mom, the mom you have always admired even as you envied her a little because she made raising four boys seem so easy. You recall the conversations where her cool head and generosity made you go wow, she’s so on it. You think of the dad, flying into town as fast as he can. A great dad.


The health department people tell you to give your own son this pill or that pill to prevent against his catching it. You have no idea whether any of it is necessary, or crucially important, or somewhere in between. You give your boy the pills anyway, fingers crossed. And you wait, low odds that anything will happen to him, but it’s such a bitter pill, knowing that his friend didn’t get any sort of warning at all, no chance to head it off with an easy prescription.

Signs are good that Clif’s friend will come through this OK. I don’t pray, most days, but I’ve cooked up some doozies today. I think I’ve hit highlights of most world religions at this point.

Hug your children tonight and revel in the ease of it all, the simplicity of a day where absolutely nothing happens.




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