Helping Laura


There is not much that I can do for Laura except to extend myself in a loving way to her. I learned of her through a mutual friend and decided that I wanted to do something supportive of her since she has suffered a great deal. Therein I want to soften her suffering and try to be a little bit helpful to move her toward wholeness, and happiness by my actions.

Yet I realize that is so little that I can do to assuage her permanent grief. My effort is feeble and small. It is almost inconsequential. In any case, I knit for Laura, a complete stranger to me who I’ve never met and who lives in Holland — almost half way around the world from me since I reside in the USA.

Who is Laura? Why do I dedicate my time and efforts to serve this person who is basically unknown to me? It is because I’m not indifferent to her plight.

What is Laura’s scoop? Laura was the daughter of a farmer and his household wife. She had a typical childhood under the circumstances. She would help her kind mother in household tasks like fix meals for her family, go to school, help with planting and tending of vegetables and feed the animals on the farm in addition to cleaning up after them.

She would also walk down her road to go to friends’ homes to do pretty usual activities that are normal for young girls to share together. After all, they are exploring the ways to grow into womanhood and fit into the culture and society into which they were born. They, thus, are figuring out relationships, their own changing identities as they grow into puberty and beyond in the stages that we pretty much all experience as we reach advanced age and, eventually, diminish to the point of dying.

Dying is, though, a topic early-on in her life with which she was quite familiar. Yes, she knew death.

As a farmer’s daughter, she was use to watching animals be born, grown from infant-hood so as to be made as healthy and fat as possible. Then those animals, at an optimal weight and in thriving health, are carted off to the nearest butchery to be exchanged for money — so much per pound based on the animal’s weight, condition, gender and type. So she understood that her farm’s animals would die and be eaten such that she wasn’t suppose to become too personally familiar with them.

All considered, it is best not to love any animal in one’s care. Do not see its beauty or goodness. Do not enjoy its pretty looks and unique individual personality. Do not stare it into its gorgeous, aware and fully conscious eyes while communing with it by petting its fur, nor hugging it around the neck. Simply do not care as the animal was only a means to make money for the family to survive.

Yes, do not love — just be indifferent — as that animal is simply a means to an end. It, therefore, had to be othered — seen as an object that one coldly uses in a financial set up. (See “Wikipedia:Othering”.)

In short, do not love. Do not hate either. Simply look at the animals as mere objects employed to make your means for survival. They are nothing except for their roles as money making, biological machines.

Despite knowing this to be the case, Laura’s father had a problem with love. In fact, he, eventually, detested his role in destroying the lives of other conscience beings. He understood that they, wonderful creatures that they were, would, eventually, killed for their flesh to be consumed based on price per pound in a grocery store.

Then his sorrow overtook him because try as he might, he could not stop loving his animals. He could not be torn between using their flesh to stay alive by their slaughter and wishing them (simply and in the beauty that he saw of them) to stay alive.

He saw no way out of his deeply torn state. The feeling of the dilemma and it’s disparity grew stronger day by day in him to the point that he saw only one way out of his extreme pain.

As a result, he, in front of his child, pointed his pistol that he’d kept in bedroom dresser drawer at each farm animal’s head — sequentially one after another.

Then still in front of his young daughter, a teenager at the time, he calmly left the barn where all of the animals were lying in huge pools of blood. He then stepped, blank eyed onto the family house’s porch, looked coldly at his daughter and blew out his own brains.

Yes, he, robotically, stuck the gun at his throat, but angled toward his head and clicked the trigger to splatter pieces if his head out of the roof of his head. He found, after all, a means to avoid his overly sensitive, unendurable and deeply hurting situation of serving himself by brutally destroying other life forms the animals and plants that he grew. He simply ended the situation in entirety. He stopped it all by ending his experience.

In the aftermath, his wife, who had been upstairs napping before her plans to fold laundry and cook dinner, went into some type of psychotic state of shock. So she wound up adjudged to be mentally incompetent and became tended in a nursing home for the feeble minded for the rest of her life.

Laura, herself, had to handle the sale of the farm and wound up in a one room studio apartment where she lived except when at her job as a waitress where she, eventually, met a Dutchman, who she married after which she moved to Holland.

I know that I can’t fix the horrors that she faced and that will forever impact her memories. I can’t stop the destruction that is embedded in her as a central part of her being.

Yes, I am so little. I cannot fix her forever memory. Yet I can strive to show her caring. She can learn to resiliently overcome through support of others who want her to thrive. So I knit half a world away from her to show her in my own small way an uplift.

While her father could not bear the pain of living, I will try to bring Laura joy in living. My knitting her a hat, a scarf a shopping bag, a pocketbook and a jumper is symbolic. It is a mere small gesture, but with a unmistakable simple message.

It is that I, after all else is said and done, wish you well — a good experience — and here are some little things to bring you a smidgeon of joy as you move forward in your life. I always hope that I can bring uplift to her and others, especially after extreme hardships and horrors in their lives.

Sally Dugman is a writer from USA


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