My daughter is a freshman at college. She is 800 miles away from home in a completely different type of environment. She has gone from the semi-rural south to metropolitan Philadelphia, from the buckle of the Bible belt to a liberal women’s college. It’s good for her, I think, to see that the world is not a homogenous place, to meet different kinds of people, and to learn to live on her own in a place with a very safe safety net.
Being in such a new environment, she was like a toddler starting preschool for the first time. Exposed to a whole crop of new germs it didn’t take her long to get sick. It hurt my heart as much as it affected her body, I think. She was so far away there wasn’t a thing I could do beyond allow her to use my credit card to DoorDash herself comfort foods. I wanted to hug her, to put cool washcloths on her head, and to make her giant cauldrons of healing chicken soup.
But I couldn’t. She called her brother, I’m told. “What do you do,” she asked, “When you’re sick and Mom isn’t around?”
“Welcome to adulthood,” he said. “It sucks.”
She’s a wily one, though, even at the depths of her illness. She didn’t want just any soup, she wanted authentic Jewish chicken soup, as close to mine as she could get, so she called the Rabbi at the local Student Center for Jewish Life. She claims she was just calling to ask where to order soup from on my dime, but my daughter being my daughter, and being more talented than anyone I know at getting people to do stuff for her, managed to get someone from the Center to deliver her homemade soup.
I felt two ways about it: so happy and proud that my daughter had managed to figure out a way to make do on her own and also, well, replaced. Seriously, I was so grateful that someone was taking care of her in the way that I wanted to that I went to the Center’s website and donated money in thanks.
And here’s what I can only assume happened next:
Some kind of klaxon alarm sounded in a bunker somewhere, accompanied by flashing red lights. An electronic wall map must have lit up with blue lines streaming from various Jewish centers (New York, Miami, Jerusalem) to my house in Georgia. Someone wearing a yarmulke and possibly payot cupped his hand around a microphone and announced, “We have a live one, all hands on deck, I repeat, we have A LIVE ONE.” People scurried around like ants.
Nothing else can explain the time and resources – and speed – invested in sending marketing materials and pleas for donations to my house from various Jewish organizations. Apparently I am the only thing standing between trees being planted in Israel, hospitals being built in needed areas, Jewish youth being able to go to Jerusalem, Jewish older folks being able to have the care they need, refugee assistance, and a thousand other worthy causes, including but not limited to the very survival of the Jewish people as a whole. We are, as a culture, masters and mistresses of guilt-based cries for help. It’s hard to say no.
But I have to say no, for now. I’ve got college tuition, and a lot of
DoorDash-ed soup to pay for. And four
year’s worth of airline tickets. And an
awful lot of gratitude for everyone who is kind to my baby when I can’t be there
 And my money
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.