“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
— Anne Lamott
I am awake when I should be sleeping. But my wife was in a car accident. I was working in the gallery when my phone rang, and although I could see it was from her, there was no sound on the other end. (Her phone was still connected to the car’s bluetooth… and she was sitting some distance away on the curb.) Then I saw a brief series of messages from her to my son and me about being in a bad car accident by Trader Joe’s. So I closed up the gallery and got in my truck and headed the four blocks or so over.
I could see police cars and police men in the street. And a fire truck. And as I got closer, the back end of a white Mercedes at an angle… with it’s front wheels splayed and nose smashed and pinned down.
I could have walked there faster. The accident had blocked the intersection of Orange and Pearl and there were lots of flashing lights. And every light, every lost driver thinking of a detour was hindering my progress. So with some effort I got to the parking lot, parked the truck, and waded through the landscaping to get to my wife at the curb. And the sight that greeted me stole my breath. Her car, just a dozen feet away… her precious blue Jeep, lay on its side. She hugged me, and kind of laughed… and kind of cried.
She was a bit banged up, but fine.
And as she spoke to officers, I took pictures of the scene and watched the tow trucks arrive. My son arrived. We emptied her car.I called the insurance company… the wrong one at first… but then the right one, and we walked over and ate lunch at a Greek restaurant as I started a claim with the right insurance company.
And she went off to Urgent Care with my son as I went back to the gallery for two more hours. The doctor made sure everything was fine. A scraped shin. Bruises on her arm and legs. Soreness. She is fine. She’s cleaning the chinchilla’s cage as I write this… and staying home from work tomorrow. And I am awake.
I am glad I got a chance to be Ethan’s father. I feel luck to have been a part of his life. It has taken five years of grieving to get to the point where I can write that with conviction… but today I know I could have lost my wife suddenly. And I thought about Ethan, and losing him. Instead of thinking, “I can’t go through that again.” I thought of how blessed I was to know him and be a part of his life.
Justin, my other son, just moved out again yesterday. And he had moved back in after Ethan died… which I found comforting… knowing that he was okay. And I guess I have spent five years with the visceral worry that I would lose him or Marquita and that I could not endure another such loss.
But somehow I know that even though it would break me and change me and hurt beyond hurt… I would endure and survive until I could one day reach the point where I could say that I was glad to share his or her life. That still, even with that loss… I was lucky. That even in grief, I was blessed.
Bad things like car accidents will happen in this life. Death will always happen. But we have a hope, and it is stubborn.
Somehow I know, that if I just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. I will wait and watch and work: I don’t give up.