Friday, October 03, 2008

Where the birds always sing...

While sitting in traffic this afternoon, I looked down and noticed that my knuckles were completely white, an undoubted effect of my hands tightly clenching the steering wheel. I sensed that I was emotional, I was tense. I looked in the rear view mirror and let out a sigh of relief and adoration at the two angels zonked out in the back seat, oblivious to a slowly moving rush hour. I turned off the buzzing radio and said out loud (instead of under my breath), "Thank you God, for one more day."

Ordinarily I'm not one to preach or to discuss religion at length, but today my mindset is different. I can't help but acknowledge that there is a superior being at work in our existence on Earth. It's more than mere coincidence that the universe supplies you with all that you need. I feel so blessed and fortunate to enjoy my life and to kiss my kids on their cheeks. I've been given so much grace.

The traffic light turns green and I continue to drive down Sheridan Boulevard, this time more slowly and cautious than I have before. I glance to my left and see the glorious purple and blue Rocky Mountains stretching across the front range. Surely they must be the very ones from the song, America the Beautiful. My heart feels full, I know I'm doing better than I deserve. As I continue the drive home, I do a mental review of the day and of life in general. I think of people who haven't been as blessed as I have been, despite my numerous imperfections. My eyes well up and I safely let a few tears escape, now that the kids are asleep and I don't have to explain my dysfunctional and emotional state to them.

My thoughts turn to Geno, an old friend I grew up with who was really more like family. I thought of his big, gummy smile as a kid and how he'd get so worked up when we'd teasingly call him Eugene. I laughed hard when I suddenly remembered how embarrassed he got when my mom caught him and my sister making out in the basement. I silently reminesced about of our snowball fights outside my Aunt Cathie's house, watching Chips, The Dukes of Hazard and Solid Gold in front of the TV every weekend. I looked at Matt sleeping in the back seat and it occurred to me that I've known Geno since I was his age.

Though we didn't keep in touch as adults, it still shook me when my mom told me he died in his sleep last night. My cousin whispered to me that Geno felt he was already running on borrowed time since he had survived an accident earlier in the Summer when a drunk driver hit him while he was riding his bike. His suffered serious skull fractures and endured hours of brain surgery to that essentially saved his life. People said he wasn't the same after that. I struggle to understand the reasoning behind tragedies like this, not that there's any sense to be made in it at all. To be young and beautiful one moment, and to morph into something unrecognizable the next.

The only solace I have to work through senseless events like this is to rely on my faith. Acknowledging the inevitable, hard realities of human nature is too cold, too difficult. It saddens me immensely to think of young people whose time has run out while there are still so many things left undone. So what, does Geno just live on in others as memories and dreams, and that's it? That's not enough, there has to be more than this.

I pray for more than this for my children and yours. I pray that their lives will be full and rich with meaning. I pray that I'll see my friend again and that he'll be as vivacious as he's ever been. In the meantime, I'll keep all those fun times we all had as kids tucked safely away in my memory. That, and at every opportunity, I'll humbly offer thanks to God for everything good, kind and happy in my own life.

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