One of the worst feelings around is when someone you care about is under the weather and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. As I sit here in South Bend, my wife -- remember, she's in White Salmon -- has been battling an upper respiratory infection for nearly 6 weeks. When she talks, it's a combination of wheezing and squeaking. She tells me that she's really rundown and she's not getting nearly enough sleep.
If we were in the same place, I could take care of her. But we aren't in the same location, so the best I can do is offer verbal support over the phone.
Not only is my wife not doing well, but my dad is slated for surgery in Bend, Oregon on Wednesday to remove a tumor. At this point, we don't know if it will be malignant or benign. Just like with Della, the only support I can provide is over the phone. My dad is even further away than my wife.
I almost wish I believed in prayer. That way I could feel as if I was doing something proactive. I could pray up a storm and then, maybe, I wouldn't feel so helpless. The only problem is that I don't believe in prayer, so that's out.
I will say that, being in these kinds of situations, I do understand why the belief in prayer is so strong for many people. Let's face it. Most of us don't like feeling helpless. We want to do something and we want that something to be meaningful. So, people pray in the hope it somehow will make a difference. Even if the prayer bears no fruit, I suppose it allows some folks to feel less helpless because they can tell themselves that they did DO something...even if that something amounts to nothing more than talking to the air.