What do you think of when everything around you suddenly slows down? When you are acutely aware of every tenth of a second as it passes?
I woke up Saturday morning to Kat's music in her room. When I looked in on her, she was dancing. Spinning in circles with her arms and hands outstretched, a huge smile on her face with her hair thrown around. "UP, Daddy! UP!" So I picked her up and danced to Itsy bitsy spider. Her face in mine, watching her smile and hearing her giggle. We spun around together like grinning fools, enjoying the moment. Nothing else really mattered.
AS the truck tire fell off the pavement, the DOT hadn't plowed and the front end swung around, I wasn't driving fast. Maybe 55 MPH. The roads were a mess, snow covered and no way to tell where the shoulder hid, waiting to pull you down to a catastrophe.
The boy has been sick. He had my cold and now has my cough. He has a rash and other problems that make him miserable. Last night Jill and I held him and tried to comfort him. He would have none of it. He stood and screamed at the injustice of it all; why did HE have to hurt? Did he really want these teeth? We held him and tried to comfort him and share his frustration.
The truck is sliding sideways, free of friction from the road and the tires held to nothing, just sliding over snow and ice. The headlights pointed into the median and the road starting to curve into my travel. Counter steer, just like I was taught in drivers ed, over 25 years ago. Pray, just like I was taught at home nearly 40 years ago.
Kat, wound up and cranky. Cabin fever making her temper boil. I found her at the door, in her jacket, hat and mittens. Crying to DO SOMETHING. Outside? Sled, she tells me. So I dressed quickly, put on her boots and carried her out and got the sled. I tell her to hold on and enjoy! She is going down the hill, faster and farther. Looking back for the security of daddy watching over her. Laughter and dancing, jumping up and down. Again! Again. Four trips in all, up the hill, position in the sled and point down the hill. GO! down the hill, faster than before, I hear her calling, Daddy!
There is a van stuck in the median. The truck has swung nearly 180* and I see the van coming up on my left. Or is it? The van is still, I am shooting towards it when the back of the truck hits the thick, wet, sticky snow of the median and the front end snaps around like a whip. The van seems to pass me by, when I should know I am the passer by. Nose into the deeper snow, slowing down as though I just drove into a lake. Snow splashing up all around, I see the snow pass over the hood and past my windows. How deep will I go?
Sunday morning, Jill took Kyle to the dr, leaving Kat home with me. Kat is mommy's little girl and spends a half hour crying for MOMMY! and looking all over the house trying to find her mommy. I distract her finally with the music from the day before and once again we are dancing, cheek to cheek. In a rare moment of perspective, I marvel and appreciate the moment. She doesn't want me to hold her often and we don't dance together. "This is precious and I don't want it to stop." I am in the moment and I know what priceless really means.
The truck is nearly in the other lane. Headlights flash in front of me, staring into my eyes. This makes it hard to see and I have my eyes open to meet my fate. What will happen when I finally come to rest? I am now heading back towards the middle of the median, snow showering all around me. Will my planner hit me in the head? Will my flashlight shake free and fracture my teeth? Will I be a burden to my family, paralyzed or blind? Is this all karma; am I wearing clean underwear?
A rough night last night. Wife and I got back to sleep around 530. We snuggled up close and dozed off. We had each gone to the children to help them get through the night and back to sleep. One woke the other and they both resented the interruption of sleep. We all did. Jill and I hit snooze and we wound ourselves closer to one another. I murmured in her ear; we used to do this every morning, BK. We cuddled and snuggled and stored up love and affection like squirrels storing nuts, corporate life is like a stark freezing Iowa winter. Store up your love and affection because outside of this house you don't have many friends or allies to help nourish your spirit. Some days that nourishment of your spirit runs out before you get to the safe haven of home.
I realize the truck has some response in the wheel. Maybe I can, I think. I am at the bottom of the hill, I have been plowing snow for a quarter mile. Give it some gas and steer. The worst that can happen is unthinkable; the best that can happen is still possible. The truck responds to the foot feed and slogs its way in the deep snow. Thirty more yards, twenty then five and OUT! We are on the road! Careful, don't go to the other ditch and look for cars coming down that hill! Keep driving a little faster, up to 45 and pointed in the right direction. Lets get home carefully, safely; ten miles to go and the road isn't any cleaner.
I park the truck at home and feel kind of weak. shut the garage door and go inside. It is too much to hope the kids are up; it is 8:15. DADDY'S HOME. A bundle of long brown curly hair runs out of her bedroom and throws herself around my knees. UP, UP, UP she commands. I pick up my daughter and a tear slides down my cheek. Jill comes into the kitchen carrying Kyle and we have a group hug. A hug has never been more precious or needed than right at that moment. I would freeze that moment in time if I could and never regret it.
I feel like it took thirty minutes to drive through that median and another hour to get home but that hug lasted for barely an instant.