Sunday, November 22, 2009

My heroes

Life is fragile.

I frequently lose sight of this tenet.

I sleepwalk through my mundane routines, trying to attain maximum efficiency with minimum emotional strain or effort, and often become obsessed with nagging, unimportant concerns:
- Did I leave the heat on when I left the house?
- Is my parked car going to roll down this hill because I didn't face the wheels toward the curb?
- Did I forget to wash the reds on the "cold" setting?
- I really need to mow the lawn and get the oil changed and replace that light and buy some cat food and...

And, naturally, my obsessions transfer over to my kids, especially my fourteen-year-old:
- Why can't she remember her house key?
- Can't she just once remember to restock the soda when she takes the last one?
- She has a dresser for a reason. The clothes basket is not a furniture item.
- Her bedroom light isn't a star which only gets turned off at the red dwarf stage.

Yesterday, I was liberated from such thoughts. My older daughter developed a medical issue, which seemed fairly routine initially, but then became much more of a concern when her doctor couldn't diagnose the problem and sent us to the hospital for some tests.

It was a day of worry and uncertainty, but it was only a day. Everything turned out okay.

At that juncture, I was left to ponder where parents find that strength when faced with their children's life-threatening and  -altering events. A couple of weeks ago, I drove by Children's Hospital in Seattle, and just watching cars enter and exit the facility nearly made me well up. The word, "hero," gets tossed about with impunity; it's especially overused in the athletic arena, but to me, those sick kids and their parents are heroes.

After yesterday's reality check, I resolved to not let the little stuff matter as much. For example, when the fourteen-year-old gazes up at a flock of migrating birds, and says, "Wow, there must be a lot of birds in the South. Oh, I guess there's a lot of South, too," I won't give her that "Did you really just say that?" look. When she flips a coin and says, "Dad, call it. Heads or...or...opposite of heads," I won't roll my eyes.

I'm just really glad she's okay.

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