In the moment before a tidal wave, waters on the surface recede. Witness accounts have placed this happening sometimes hundreds of yards out, a once calm process broken up and disturbed. Life on the ocean floor suddenly exposed to air. Moments of routine destroyed.
One second you can breathe, the next you cannot.
And in that pause, the rumble of miles of water, pure tons of force. A flow moving at speeds beyond understanding, plowing through borders and boundaries. Everything held dear is swept away.
I’d like to write about some cinematic moment, some vast realization played out against the backdrop of soaring violins, fall sunsets, and family embraces. I’d like to write that an angel appeared, told Carter to not be afraid, and peace settled. None of these things happened.
We’ve explored options and have found some that seem to work. Carter is progressing. Formally large worries are not as large anymore. He’s faced some fears and walked through them. We are on the dawn of tween years.
This past weekend he played baseball in a tournament just outside the city where I’d attended college. I took Carter to dinner after the games in a restaurant that Val and I often frequented. The night was cool with families milling around outside. We walked through the restaurant and shopping area around it while my mind was in a different time. We went into the Barnes and Noble where I’d stood almost twenty years ago waiting for an engagement ring to be finished in the mall down the road, one I’d give to Val later that night.
So many hopes and expectations, excitement looking forward.
At some point, life teaches you that expectations will fail. The path will not come easy. Fear and worry will hound you, large black dogs of acceptance whose red eyes shine when you look at the window of a sleepless night. The things you believed as a child will be shed and the nuclear explosion impact will hit that nobody is perfect and you’ll spend decades processing that fall out.
Slowly you’ll emerge and realize:
Optimism is a choice. Hope is earned. Dreams can change.
Fear can hold you back or push you forward.
Nothing breaks your heart like the pain of a child.
Love is not the passion in the early years of marriage.
Love is the overdue bill, the unnecessary credit card, the change in body type, long hours, cold dinners, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, text messages about nothing, arguing and still, after the kids are in bed, sitting on the couch with each other and watching a movie.
Love is seeing a broken heart and standing next to it. Love is knowing every pain and scar and still holding hands.
Friendship is golden, community is scary but both are necessary.
You will get angry and yell at your kids and you will sound exactly like your parents and your child will look at you. You’ll see yourself and in that moment the entire universe stops spinning.
Then the waves settle. The sun sets. Night falls. You climb in bed next to your spouse and say I love you and realize there is nowhere else you’d rather be.