I woke at 3 am today, hardly ideal but no surprise. We’re all insomniacs here. I spent a little time with Abbie because her insomnia and mine cross this way sometimes, and I’m awake before she falls asleep. I drank some coffee, wrote for awhile, and woke Carter at 6:30. I dropped him off at school and it was all so blessedly ordinary. Our lives are boring in all the right ways: family, church, dogs, books, work, coffee, prayer, movies, burritos, birthdays…a predictable succession.
Our lives were dogged by crisis and tragedy for long and long and I never took the last three peaceful years for granted. I never quite settled in, either. Trauma and chaos change a family. We became much more grateful, but also more insecure, always suspicious. Our lives have turned inside out too often and we stay alert, not because our watchfulness will prevent the next disaster but because we can’t not.
As I was rushing Carter to my folks’ house a few weeks ago because my daughter’s friend was missing (found now, and safe), he said, “This isn’t how I thought this day would go. This was going to be a regular day. I guess you never know when everything might change.”
Indeed. Brian woke at 4 am today and went, as always, to meditate and pray for an hour before he went to his office for a standard Thursday, except it wasn’t. He called at 9:33 am from his car to tell me he was coming home. “Reduction in force” is what they call it. How cold those words are, so far removed from the reality of a family that has always been waiting for The Next Thing. Brian cleaned out his desk and put his things in the box provided for him, except for the award they gave him for five years of service. He left that on the floor. He was a few months from an award for ten years, but he got a packet of COBRA information instead. “Reduction in force” feels a hell of a lot like “kick that guy in the teeth.”
We’re OK. We’ll be alright because we have people. Our lives are saturated with relationships and if we are short of money or health or sleep, we have an abundance of friendship and kinship. Our phones have been chirping all day, bringing messages of encouragement and hope. We have meaning and mission and opportunities to serve. We love each other and that love is as solid and true as the earth under our feet.
Nevertheless, 8:30 this morning seems a very long time ago, the time before The Next Thing became The Real Thing. There’s darkness ahead, and pain, and Brian and I will enter together, surrounded by a vast cloud of witnesses. I’m grateful to know that, if we reach for a hand to hold, we’ll find one