Yesterday, when I went to the Credit Union, I met a friend who asked, “Did you hear there is a police stand-off in Winthrop today? The schools are in lockout.”
“No kidding!” I said. To put it mildly, I was surprised. Winthrop, population 6,000, is normally a safe, placid town, and it’s one of the things I love about living here.
The tellers at the Credit Union joined the discussion.
“It’s on Spruce Street,” said one of them said.
“There was a gunshot,” another said.
Spruce Street is only about a couple of miles from the Credit Union. “Is Main Street closed?” I asked. I had planned to go to the library after I was done at the Credit Union.
“No,” my friend answered. “Just High Street and Spruce Street.”
At the library, I discussed the stand-off with Richard and Nancy, and we all agreed it was a shocking incident for little Winthrop.
But shocking incidents can happen anywhere, even in a town of 6,000. No matter where they live, people can snap and do terrible things. As it turned out, this was a case of extreme domestic violence, but fortunately the wife and child escaped without harm. Unfortunately, the husband killed himself, and this was the gunshot that was heard.
After going to the library, I headed to Augusta, to a place I have been going for nearly five years—the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care. In 2010, just before my fifty-third birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At first, I went to the Cancer Center every four months. Now it’s every six months. In September, on the fifth anniversary, I will start going once a year.
I was lucky. My cancer was “lazy,” slow-growing and not aggressive. My prognosis has always been good. Nevertheless, when I go to the Cancer Center, I am nervous. Will the blood work reveal something terrible? Will the oncologist find a lump?
Yesterday, the answer was no and no. Everything was good, and I could carry on with my ordinary life, which, since breast cancer, has become very dear to me. I could continue my volunteer work with the library, which means so much to me. I could check on an acquaintance who is going through hard times and offer to make soup for her. I could plan an Easter Brunch. A summer of bike riding. Nights on the patio. My ordinary list goes on and on, and how grateful I am to be able to enjoy that list.
Today I have been thinking about the people involved in that stand-off—a man who is dead; a woman without a husband; a child without a father. For the man, of course, his ordinary life is over, and I can only assume there was too much pain for him to bear. For the wife and child, I expect it will be quite a while before they can enjoy an ordinary life, and there might be scars that never quite heal.
An ordinary life, like being useful, sounds flat and boring. But for those of us who have had our ordinary lives tipped upside down, it is anything but dull. For me, at least, my ordinary life is rich and fulfilling, and I hope I have many more years of this life.