My dad spent his career in a nuclear power plant. For a kid growing up with Homer Simpson in his prime on television, this wasn’t a bad thing. It was always an interesting conversation starter and he has some great stories.
One of the best involves breaking a light bulb.
His job, in the plant, involved many things including keeping reactors and other essential engines running smoothly. He was hired when they built the plant and learned things, literally, from the ground up. One night, a crew of guys needed someone from his department to oversee maintenance on a large machine as an alert had tripped.
My dad followed them to the area where the machine was housed. After checking things out, he determined that a light bulb needed to be replaced as part of the repair. He unscrewed the old bulb and placed the new one in the socket. As he screwed it in, it broke in his hand.
This set off an alarm that tripped to other facilities up and down the east coast and cost Philadelphia Electric a good amount of money.
For every action, no matter how small or planned, there are massive consequences.
If you are a parent, you know this is true. Try buying two different toys for a pair of siblings, believe me, it does not end well. If you are a husband or wife, this is also true. Little things that become routine will pile up until you find yourself buried under them.
You cannot turn on the news without being launched in the midst of the gun control debate. I remember being in high school when Columbine happened. That day we realized that the world was changing. Now, things that we hadn’t experienced until teenage years are happening at younger and younger ages. Bullying and suicide has become an epidemic.
Pain is real, ready for consumption on social media, and broadcast for all to see. In years where we may have battled our anger by riding our bikes across town, kids are finding sharp objects and turning the pain inward.
We spent the last weekend in Ocean City, Maryland. I booked the days after Val’s miscarriage, in hopes that we could get away. We found some seashells, as a family, and are planning on planting something in the yard and decorating with the shells in memory of what happened.
The boys each had a balloon and we stood by the ocean, white caps painting the waves and wind whipping through our hair. I asked them to send a prayer up to heaven for the baby and, one by one, they did. Carter and Aiden each said their own thing and they did it with authentic faith, emotion, and sincerity. As they finished, one by one, they kissed their balloon and let it go.
We were frozen by the breeze at that point and, when they ran to the car, I stopped for a moment and watched the red and blue balloons as they twisted on the air currents and made their way into the sky.
We are not a perfect family by far. We have our issues. The boys fight like cats and dogs. The rest of the trip had its own turbulence that comes with vacations, too much boardwalk food, and an overload of swimming.
In that moment, though, we had peace. We had a ripple of hope and the prayer of two little boys that made its way to Heaven. We had the chance to release pain and heartache, put it on the wind, and watch it rise.
We had the chance to be whole and we will walk forward, together, into whatever may come.