Last week a call for help went out in our local community group. While living in Europe is a dream come true, the hard parts are extra hard. Illness, new babies, flooded basements, all things made easier with family & friends. But when you are halfway around the world without family, without friends, troubles can seem completely overwhelming. It is a very lonely place.

A new-in-Germany family was hit with an enormous blow. A young mother suddenly took ill, and diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. A husband suddenly standing alone, with three young kiddo’s. Even worse, because of COVID & travel restrictions into Germany from the US, family cannot fly over to help. Our command is working hard with the German government for an exception, but it’s a slow process. In the meantime, this family has been rocked to their core.

I can’t do much. They live on the other side of Stuttgart from me. It is an hour away. I can be on standby. I can zoom in to help during crisis. I can’t pop over every day for support. Luckily, there are people closer by. Luckily there are some true angels in our community. I am in awe of how many people have stepped up to help this family. They may be in crisis, but they are not alone. Our community is showing how strong our military family bonds with not just words, but actions.

One wonderful lady has coordinated a meal train. This I can help with. Cooking I can do. Yesterday was my day. I cooked up my crowd favorite butter chicken, rice & homemade naan, as well as a refreshing tomato & cucumber salad.

And. Because I know how incredibly terrible German hospital food is (see Rouwen en Trouwen and Schlemmen Am See for pictures of just how terrible) I got a handy-dandy thermos so the mom could have hot, home-cooked food in her hospital room.

I packed it all up, and Tess & I got in her little Smart. One of the reasons we bought Wade (the Smart), is because he’s not-diesel. Diesel is not allowed in Stuttgart, and we were going to have to drive through Stuttgart to get to their house in the kleinen Umweltzone.

It was Tess’ first time driving in the city. Not only was she driving in the city, but she was driving during rush hour. Granted, rush hour is not that terrible right now. School is ending this week, summer break is starting, and it’s COVID. Everything is quieter. Much, much quieter. It was still exponentially busier than our farmville streets.

Tess did amazing! The hardest part is picking a lane. Just staying in one lane, when there actually are more than one, is impossible. Usually if there are two lanes, one turns left-only or right-only within a block. Trying to stay on the actual road you need to be on is a challenge in Stuttgart. She quickly got the hang of it, and is now a pro at changing lanes in traffics. New skill. Learned.

We dropped off the dinner to a very sad husband. I wanted to jump the gate & hug the guy. I’ve never seen anyone literally carry the weight of the world on his shoulders like this guy. My pride in making a meal, and packing a hot thermos, floated away. It was a drop in a very leaky bucket. I wish I had a magic wand to help him, to help her. I wish I had an answer. A fix. Something, anything. Instead all I had was butter chicken.

We did talk to him for a bit. We did manage to put a smile on his face. I’ve reached out to his unit & let them know I’m here. An hour is far, but it’s not undoable. I feel a need to help more. So does Tess. Her heart hurt just as much as mine.

I was so proud of her. So proud of her heart aching to help. So proud of her driving city streets. It was also a very hot day. We’d been in the car over an hour. Without air conditioning. We were in Stuttgart. I decided to take her for a little treat downtown.

Downtown Stuttgart in summer is crazy. There is no parking. There’s barely room to walk. This time, parking was everywhere. While the streets weren’t empty, they were as empty as during a thunderstorm. Except it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. COVID has changed the landscape dramatically. I can’t say I’m sorry. I really love seeing my city without people. It’s a wonderful little gift, in a not so wonderful time.

Tess on the almost empy streets of downtown Stuttgart
She’s driving. It means I get a glass of wine!
Fresh, healthy, not-made-by-me!