Dear Dad,

Dear Dad,

You knew that I did not intend on going there last night.  You saw me struggling, and you told me to go, and so I went.  I thank you for letting me sit a while and listen, with you by my side.

You sent me the a card a few years ago.  I can’t remember exactly when. The front says, “Before you were born ~ I knew you.”  I loved it, and I called you in tears after I read your words.  You were so special, and I knew I was lucky to have you.

The cover of the card  has an illustration of a mother hugging her daughter.  I chuckled to myself, figuring that you didn’t realize it was meant for a mother to buy.  Over the past few months when I have looked at the card, I have thought to myself, “He knew it was a mother.  He just didn’t care because he liked the words.  He was like that.”

Last night I found out the truth because you led me to a place where I could listen.  I could listen and understand.  At Hope’s faith formation class (which Hope could not even be at,) you spoke to me.  Of course you did.  That’s so you.

You spoke to me through a young youth minister named Brett.  He was talking about being of God’s world, and not of this world.  There are so many things in this world that pull us away from God’s world.  Our own thoughts do this sometimes. Thoughts like:

I am not strong enough.

My shot isn’t good enough.

I am not smart enough.

I am not fast enough.

I am not pretty enough.

I am not popular enough.

These are all ideas of this world.  There are not of God’s world, because he loves each of us as we are.  In His eye’s, we are perfect, each of us.  It is not that I hadn’t heard you speak those words while you were here in body.  Over and over again I  heard you say those things.  It’s just that I have not heard your voice for such a long time that perhaps I let your message slip to the back of my mind.  It is also that I have never heard you speak to me through someone else before.

I’m surprised that a huge light bulb did not appear in the air above my head when Brett quoted Jeremiah:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.  Jeremiah 1:5

You chose that card for me because those were words written first by a prophet.  You were a Deacon.  You studied the Bible.  You KNEW.  Those words are not meant specifically for a man or a woman.  They are meant for all of us.  You knew what you were doing when you chose my card.  You loved me like God loves me and everyone else.  Unconditionally.

You were a wise man, Dad.  You believed in striving to be more “Christlike.”  You believed that the only reason we are here is to learn how to love.  I’m working on it.  I miss you. I love you.  Thank you for sitting with me last night.  I heard you.

To quote you…”There is no such thing as a coincidence.”  Right?

Love,

Carolyn

 

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it’s a trick question.

 photo

It’s a question without an answer.  A cocktail party question.  An inevitable conversation starter in the business I have worked in for 15 years (children’s retail.) It starts when glowing moms eagerly tell you the gender of their unborn child.  Customers’ heads turn as if called by name, and immediately conversation is sparked.  A customer may be shopping 10 feet away, but for some interesting reason (hopefully an innate humane nicety  – the one that wants to make people feel good,) opinions start flying.  People say how “sweet” boys are.  How “everyone should have at least one girl.”   It’s fun to listen.  Occasionally, I add my own two cents.

When does all this happiness go bad?  When people state which sex is “easier.” (Define “easier” by the way.)  Which is easier to grow?  Girls…or…Boys?  I cringe when people start voicing opinions on this matter, because it can get heated. I play mediator,  hoping that two people who have never met will not engage in a “knock down drag out” in the store as an expectant mother looks on in horror.  Being of sound mind most of the time, I may need to interject a voice of reason. “The answer lies in the individual child, with a bit of biology and psychology mixed in.”  – not bad, right?  We need honesty here. (and facts)  There are times when girls are easier, and times when boys are easier.

There is no answer to this question.  It’s a trick question.   That is what I am going to say from now on when the banter starts.  Then I will whisper to the expectant parent.  “Wait and see.” I will use a phrase I usually avoid, but “fits” in this instance “It’s all good.”

As far as boys go- this may be helpful.

As I picked up my 17-year-old son’s room this morning (after a bit of  “adolescent” verbal abuse I took like a lady because I remember how difficult exam week is,)  I dusted the top of a framed poem we received from a dear friend on my son’s Christening Day.  It has been perfectly placed on the wall so that leaving his room, one always catches a glimpse of it. If a parent is leaving his room and is lucky, he or she will read it, and find peace.

And so it goes:

Just a Boy…….

Got to understand the lad-

He’s not eager to be bad;

If the right he always knew,

He would be as old as you.

Were he now exceeding wise.

He’d be just your size;

When he does things that annoy

Don’t forget – he’s just a boy

Could he know and understand,

He would need no guiding hand;

But he’s young and hasn’t learned

How life’s corners must be turned.

Doesn’t know from day to day

There is more to life than play.

More to face than selfish joy.

Don’t forget – he’s just a boy

Being  just a boy he’ll do

Much you will not want him to;

He’ll be careless of his ways,

Have his disobedient days.

Willful, wild and headstrong, too

He’ll need guidance kind and true;

Things of value he’ll destroy

But reflect – he’s just a boy.

Just a boy who needs a friend,

Patient, kindly to the end

Needs a father who will show  (and a mother)

Him the things he wants to know

Take him with you when you walk,

Listen when he wants to talk,

His companionship enjoy,

Don’t forget – he’s just a boy.

~DURGIN PARK

Market Dining Rooms

-In the shadow of Faneuil Hall

ESTABLISHED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN

PS- He will pay for the adolescent verbal abuse with limited electronic device usage and lack of “wheels” for “whipping” friends around.  No worries.

What if –

She looked at me as I spoke to her, her blue eyes blazing with fear, and she listened intently to what I was saying.  “Your Daddy is alive”, I said, “and he looks like a very strong man.  He is with people who can take care of him now.” She then looked at her mother, who was shaking and crying, and she achingly shouted these words:

“I hate you, America!”

If  I were she – 8 years old, in a foreign land, my mother physically shaking and barely able to speak as my father was being lifted into an ambulance, I may have shouted the same thing.  She was a visitor in this country.  She landed here with a smile on her face, anticipating a vacation filled with celebration.  She arrived protected by the strong, able bodies of two loving parents; yet she would be accompanied home by only one.  Her father had saved her life, and with that had made the ultimate sacrifice.  He did what a parent instinctively does.  He gave his life for his child.

My own family of 6 had just descended the stairs of the parking garage into the darkness of a balmy night, eager to explore the sights and sounds of a bustling shopping plaza brand new to us. My 16-year-old son saw it happen.

“Oh My God.” he said.  “He got hit!”

Confused, I looked around, and then I heard them.  I have heard screaming people on television and in the movies.  I have heard screaming people on roller coasters and in fake haunted houses at Halloween.  I have now heard true screams of terror.  These screams may sound similar, but they feel very different.  I will never forget how they felt.  They make your spine tingle. They make your heart ache.  They make you afraid.

In the seconds that followed, thoughts rushed through my head at lightening speed:

” Do I run away?  I want to run away!”

 “Of course not – you can’t run away!”

“Do something!”

“You are trained in nursing.”

 “You know what to do.”

” Go help these people.”

I walked slowly, gathering courage with each step until I found myself running to the scene.

A man lay motionless on the ground.  His shrieking wife knelt beside him. A small car with a windshield shattered and resembling a spiderweb more than a piece of glass stood parked at an angle behind her.  The driver of the car that hit him was pacing back and forth, unharmed.  The victim was bleeding from the trauma to his head and his skin had a purplish hue.  I went through the checklist in my head, and started to treat him as I had been taught.  After a few moments someone yelled, “He’s breathing!!”  I heard him exhale strongly.  So strongly, in fact, that blood from his nose spattered my cheek.  It felt cold.  “This is insane.  It can not be real.” I thought to myself.

This nameless man and I were both guests in this city.  Neither one of us was in familiar surroundings, yet we were brought together by a series of events.  Why?  What if my family had kept our original plan for the evening instead of turning around to avoid freeway traffic?  What if I chose a different parking space?  I would not have seen this.  What if he paused for a moment to check himself in the mirror on his way out the door or give his little girl a piggy back ride?  This would not have happened.  The “what-ifs” and “whens” and “whys” were piling up in my head, and all I could do was work with strangers to keep this man alive.

We did work together, the makeshift team of people and I.  People whose names I will never know.  I would not recognize them if I walked by them in the street today.  A man kept pressure on the head wound, while another  checked for a pulse. A woman stood behind me speaking calmly, creating a pseudo-refuge for us amid pure hysteria.  Someone stayed with the couple’s little girl as she watched in horror from the sidewalk.  We stayed with this man for what seemed like an eternity, and when the ambulance arrived, we went our separate ways.

I continued to speak to this man’s wife and daughter, distracting them as well as I was able until the police took them away to the hospital.  They were a family of 3 on vacation.  On vacation.  Just like me.

Then they were gone.

I rejoined my family on the side of the road in what looked like a completely different scene than the one I had rushed toward minutes before.  Caution tape had been put up.  Crowds had gathered.  Lights and sirens were now flashing.  My son was telling the police what he saw.  I worried about my son for a moment, but knew we needed to be in a different place to discuss what had happened there that night.

I was sick inside, and I clung to hope, knowing that this man was alive when he was taken away.

We wandered aimlessly around the shopping plaza, finally  realizing that what we had just seen was something that we could not “walk off.”  We headed back to our hotel.

They were not from this country, and I will never see them again, the family that changed the course of my vacation.  The family that reminded me of life’s fragility and the difference between meaningful and the meaningless.  The family that I experienced something with that most people will fortunately never experience.  The man to whom I knew I was forever bound as I stood on the cold marble floor in the bathroom of my hotel room and wiped his blood from my cheek.

I had heard it many times before, but that night I felt it and I knew it.  Life is fragile.  Handle with care.

Please.

P.S.  Over the past two years, since my father’s passing, I have thought often about which I would find easier- losing someone I love slowly from a long illness, or suddenly, from an accident such as the one I experienced.  I have concluded that I was blessed with the ability to say goodbye to my father, to tell him I love him, and to be with him until he fell peacefully to sleep for eternity.  Everyone feels and sees things differently.  Today, I feel blessed.