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Quote of the Day
Friday, June 02, 2006
I went to pick ST up from daycare today at 4:00pm, and he rushed to squeeze me right as I walked in the door. As he started chatting away to me, I could see one of his carers, Jolene, in the background. She was white as a ghost. Lauren, Jolene's daughter who runs the daycare with Jolene, was not there.
"Jolene, is everything all right?" I asked, touching her arm. Her eyes were watery under her glasses.
Looking around to make sure no children were listening, she whispered, "Lauren's stepson was in a car accident this afternoon. We're not sure if he's going to make it."
I had noticed the gray Honda in the driveway as I walked to Lauren's house. The car belonged to Lyle, Lauren's husband. Apparently, Lauren and Lyle had driven right to the scene of the accident, over half an hour away in the middle of nowhere.
I asked Jolene to keep me informed when she heard more information about the accident. Later that afternoon, as I visited with another parent whose child attends Lauren's daycare, we heard the news: Lyle's son was dead. He was 16. "Lyle's son did not make it," Jolene said in her message, voice trembling, "and so the daycare will be closed next week as Lyle and Lauren make the arrangements for their son."
I did not know Lyle's son, a child from Lyle's previous marriage. I know that his son stayed with Lyle and Lauren at least once a month -- he had a room in their house. I know that he was a bit of a handful, that he and Lauren often did not see eye to eye, and that he did not always get along with Lauren's daughter. Nevertheless, I saw his picture every day I brought ST to daycare -- a handsome boy who stared out at me from his place on the wall between glass-framed photographs of Lauren and Lyle's two daughters.
Jolene's words are stuck in my head. "Make arrangements for their son." You make arrangements for your son to play baseball on Saturday afternoon. You make arrangements for your son to attend a good school. You make arrangements for your son to be picked up after band practice. You should not have to make arrangements for your 16-year-old son's funeral.
Before I was married, I assumed that the loss of my parents would be the worst loss I could possibly suffer. Then I got married, and I assumed that the death of my spouse would be a tragedy I could not bear. Indeed, when T's father died and we spent time with T's mother afterward, I saw first-hand how devastating the loss of a spouse actually was. But now that I have a child, I honestly do not know how or if I could recover if he was suddenly wiped out of my life. I could certainly go through the motions of living, but it wouldn't be worth it.
I looked at ST in his bed tonight, then knelt by his bedside to smell him. This boy has only been in my life for three years (and nine months), and I cannot bear the thought of ever having to "make arrangements" for him. How much more painful to have sixteen full years together, and to then have them swept away in an instant on an obscure rural highway. It is a loss I cannot comprehend.