It was a normal day. I had just completed the only boring meeting of my day. Chinese or Subway? Chinese. But only because it would be the shortest line at the food court. Where did I park again? I hear the beep, but can’t see it. I find it and check my cell phone. Danato Andriacco had responded to my witty Facebook post. I closed Facebook and saw that Lacey had sent me five texts. This was a normal day.
That changed when I opened the texts. Carnage and horror are terms that I had used to describe football, meetings, and daily life. That seemed trivial and borderline insensitive as I read about the actual definitions of those words. I called Lacey as I drove and the conversation contained a sadness and anger that shouldn’t be discussed. This shouldn’t happen. This was not a normal day.
I rushed home and was glued to the news. I held my head and wiped a few tears that escaped. The grief of those poor people. The updates and the number killed going up. I leaned forward in my chair and said a prayer. Callie, my baby girl, knew I needed a smile. She obliged. I grabbed her off the ground and noticed every nuance of the hug. Her left hand tugged at my collar. Her right grabbed my ear. The drooly kiss didn’t bother me. I held her a little tighter. I froze this moment and decided afternoon work really wasn’t that important.
The boys returned from school. Relief and joy. I grabbed both of them and while Carson was able to escape, Grant was forced to endure my almost breakdown. Another moment frozen and placed in my memory bank.
Preparations for their preschool Christmas musical had to be made. It seemed minute and unimportant, but life has to go on. It has to. Clothes ironed. Naps. And unfortunately, a haircut for Carson. There has been much written about the ordeal that is a Carson haircut, so I won’t rehash the subject. Needless to say, a wrestling match with clippers ensued and Carson emerged more Johnny Unitas than Justin Beiber. The result was not just a shorter haircut, but a curtain was drawn on a road map of a life lived. A life that was more visible. A life dotted with exclamations that revealed themselves as scars. Scars that served as not too distant memories. Memories that shaped our lives.
Carson, still distraught from the haircut experience, moved to the bath. His brown hair washed off and gathered by the drain. Despite my best efforts to console him, he remained upset. I sat with him as he cried into my shoulder. My hands traced the recently revealed scar on his head, then the one on his back. A rush of memories raced over me. The hospital stays. Eating nonstop McDonalds because it was in the hospital. The driving to Louisville from Pensacola and being on the endless route 29 that leads to I-65. Lacey’s strength. Sleeping in a chair meant for a person of average height. The surgeon coming into the waiting room. And the overwhelming relief I felt when he said everything was okay. Then we did it again two months later.
The map of Carson’s scars tell the story of pain, anxiety, and emotions that I didn’t think existed. But more importantly, they tell a story of resilience and how fortunate Lacey and I are to have him.
The water splashing my face, brings me back. The emotional five year old smacking my arm also helped. The tragedy came back too. The sounds of updates on the news in the background, I grab my son and hold him a little too tight. I think about the parents. They too had scars. Their scars told stories and brought back a flood of memories. They comforted their emotional child after a haircut. I sympathized, as I’m sure every parent sympathized, because as different as we may be, the feelings of being a parent are universal.
I hate that their hands won’t trace the scars that I’m sure were so precious to them. I hate that they won’t feel a tug of their ear or an overly drooly kiss. I hate that they will never get to see those scars fade. I hate that they won’t get to see new scars that I’m sure would have told a story. I hate this evil so much.
But not for the next couple of days. Instead, I will mourn for the parents and pray that God gives them peace in the knowledge that heaven, like all places, is better off with a few more kids around.