Things have been heavy at our house the last couple of days. Our weekend started with great promise. Emily came with the girls for no particular reason. It wasn’t a holiday, there were no “food standards” so I didn’t cook myself into a nervous breakdown. We had tacos and nachos and ice cream. Everybody kind of came and went as they pleased. It was a relaxing time.
Sarah has her learner's permit and Emily is letting her drive. We went to the movies and Sarah drove home in the dark and did fine. Essie is on schedule to get braces on her teeth so the popcorn at the movies was especially savored. It was like “goodbye” popcorn. And I just now remembered that she doesn't go by Essie any more. She is Elisabeth now. At least, at school. In public. Someday only our family will call her Essie.
We’re getting to the part where they grow up. And I’m not sure how I feel about that, as if my opinion could stop time if I wanted to.
Saturday morning just when the cinnamon rolls for a late breakfast came out of the oven Sarah came running into the house straight for her mom in the back room. Things were quiet for a time while I wondered what the rush was. When they emerged Sarah was crying and could only show me the message on her phone that her best friend’s brother had been in a car wreck. A bad one. A life-threatening, head injury, brain damage, scary one. Later, when the facts came in, it sounded like a classic beginner's mistake when the inexperienced driver hits the side of the road then over-corrects and over-corrects that and ends up rolling the car. Emily and the girls packed up and left for home to get in a position where they could help Savannah however she needed them to.
Damn this learning to drive process. Damn youth. Damn learning the hard way.
Savannah’s family is very involved in scouts and church. The First Christian Church, two blocks away from the Garland town square, held a prayer vigil there. Hundreds of people came to support them. My daughter held her daughter while they sang “Amazing Grace” and could feel her shaking.
Growing up isn’t easy. We want to keep our kids in a bubble and protect them from pain. But I don’t know a single person who has managed to pull this off. Instead, I know people who claim that if you learn from mistakes then they should be the smartest person on earth..
Expensive weddings didn't prevent both of our daughters from divorce. The best therapy in town didn’t keep me from being an alcoholic. Yes, I’ve gotten used to the fact that I can’t drink and it’s but a minor footnote in my life. Do I wish it was different? Of course. And sometimes social events are hard.
Sometimes things are just hard. And you can't buy a guarantee.
If you have a kid who is learning to drive you can spend hours and hours teaching them but the learning process is a process with no guarantees. Learning is hard. And on top of that, you can’t control the other drivers who share a freeway with them.
Beaven and I know the secret to driving on ice and snow. When you hit an icy patch and lose control, our technique is to just let go of the wheel for a little bit until the wheels have a bite on the road surface again. You, in effect, let go of any control you think you have. It’s no guarantee that you can prevent an accident this way but it’s the best recommendation from all the experts. It’s always worked for me.
Some times to re-gain control of our lives we have to let go for a while before we can hold the steering wheel again. That’s what the prayer vigil for Dylan Godwin was all about. It’s our best weapon. It’s our only hope.
When you walk to the edge of all the light you have
And take the first step into the darkness of the unknown
You must believe one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid for you to stand upon
Or you will be taught to fly
The Leaning Tree, 1976