True story…

…for you all

I like to think about why I’m here. I like to think about why we’re here. This, however, always leads to huge, colossal, black monolith in the sky ponderings. Typically, at this point I lose interest. I’ve yet to find an answer that truly satisfies me. Admittedly, I’m very self centered so if the answer doesn’t spin and dance baby dance around me, I’m not typically inclined to add it to any level of my reality.

Regardless, it’s still fun from time to time, to play with the possibilities.

One of my favorite scenarios is that “butterfly effect” thing. You know the one. It’s where if you fart in a high wind on Thursday the Queen of England chooses chicken over fish at a public dinner. Seemingly random but if you’re able to trace the steps back, you start to see cause and effect. “Hindsight” and all that.

I kind of have a feeling mankind in general has gotten a little cocky and it’s sort of satisfying to think of a pattern existing that man can’t wrap his head around. We may be at the top of the food chain, but have you seen how steep that pyramid thing is?  I can imagine the universe thumbing its’ nose at us. It cracks me up.

Another of the fun ones (and the one we’ll speak of tonight) is the “we’re here to do one thing” mindset. This one consists of the idea that our whole life’s purpose will come down to one moment in time. One thought. One action. One pivotal point in your soon to be personal history. I have to admit that I like this one a lot as well, but it scares the crap out of me. You know that saying, “When your ship comes in you’ll be at the airport”? That’s me. Totally.

And are you the person that needs to know when you’ve fulfilled your destiny? I think most of want to know, but would soon be driven mad by said “knowing”. Think it through, you’ve just reached the pinnacle of your life, the top of the top, the snowy peak from where you look down upon all your other accomplishments… Now what? Beer and brats? I think not. Probably sit on the porch and wait for the end. You might be a “Type A” person and think you can strive and run and fight and accomplish. And you might do those things but at the end of the day that little voice in your head will always be there chuckling.

Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes my friends.

I’m visiting my mothers house in the mid part of fall. Where I live that means people are starting to wear heavier clothes even in the sunshine. They’re using words like “winterizing and “bags of salt”.  The motorcycles are being flushed or run dry. We’re gearing up and hunkering down. It’s sunny but only about 42 degrees outside. (Fahrenheit. We don’t do Celsius. Really) My visit has ended and I’m walking out the door to my car thinking of the afternoon and all its “to-do” items left unaddressed as of yet. Could be a long day I decide. I have the pleasure and convenience of living just a few short blocks from my mothers house. With all the things left to do it’s a small blessing. I make my way away from the curb and head down the street. Prioritizing things in my head, I can make out the corner coming up. I know you all know what I mean when I speak of a route driven so often that you often don’t really see it. Sometimes you can arrive at your destination and not have any distinct memory of your trip. This is very much like that.

The things that stand out for us are the out of the ordinary. Those things that are not there every trip.

The intersection coming up is a three way. All side streets. Think small neighborhood. Sitting in the intersection is a brown and white bag skittering slowly with the wind. It’s small enough to drive over but big enough to be concerned with what it contains and what it might do to my car. I’m almost on top of it now and have decided to just drive right over it when it looks up at me with the most frightened liquid brown eyes I’ve ever seen in my life.

People recounting accidents, tragedies, and traumatic events often say things like, “it happened so fast…” and, “I don’t know what happened…”

This is that. Now I understand.

My grasp of time is pretty rock steady so I can tell you that in the space of one half second these things happened:

The bag turned into a two year old (at most) little girl.

My brakes did the absolute most important thing they ever did.

My eyes welled up with tears before my car stopped moving.

I quickly examined the fact that I’d almost run right over a little girl in the middle of the road and thought through not only what that would have done to her in her last second or so, but also what that would have meant to me and the rest of my life up to and including the ramifications that would have been borne by my loved ones.

The utter and complete horror of the previous bullet point made me almost throw up on myself.

I put my car in park.

I walked around to the front and there we were. She and I. I looked down at her and she just looked up at me. I’ve got to imagine that, on a small scale, by it’s incongruous/out of whack nature, it’s gotta’ be like walking around a corner of your house to see it engulfed in flames and enthusiastically burning down around your shoulders. It’s simply so weird that it’s a little difficult to react to with any kind of propriety.

Eventually it occurred to me to pick her up off the blacktop. (cuz’ I’m quick that way) As soon as I did I realized I didn’t have a flippin’ clue what to do next. I literally am standing there with this baby just turning circles in the road as if an answer was going to walk up to me as long as I’m facing the right direction. The little voice in my head finally spoke up, “…call the police…”

Uhh..oh yeah, right…

I called the police and they said, “Stay there, we’re on our way.” I swear I hear superhero music in the background and was envious for my own. In the meantime I thought I’d knock on a few doors and see if anyone knew her. I tried maybe three, maybe four doors and either they weren’t answered or they didn’t know (or care from what I could glean). Finally, a woman answered about 5 houses away from the intersection. By now the little girl had realized she didn’t know me and was crying and shivering from the cold. I had wrapped my jacket around her but she kept pushing it off. And by the way, did I mention her diaper? (no good deed goes unpunished) Anyway, I describe the situation to the woman and she acts the way I thought the first three or four should have. She ushers us in, takes the baby from my arms in a very loving way and grabs a little blanket to wrap around her. She doesn’t know the baby, but it doesn’t stop her from loving all over this girl. She goes into her kitchen to find something for her to drink and I’m left standing around in her living room.

I’m looking around while I’m waiting and start to notice things. An open greeting card on the bookshelf that reads, “ good luck you guys” and on the corner table a book on mothering. On another table a copy of a monthly parenting magazine. No sign of any children. No toys, messes, noise, messes, clothing, messes…you get the idea.

They come back into the room and I say I’ll go outside and wait for the police. The baby is quite content as I make my way outside and that’s just alright. I walk to the three way stop and just stand there staring at the spot where I found her. I found it absolutely amazing that I or someone else hadn’t run her over. A true chill that has nothing to do with the weather runs down my spine like someone poured ice water down my back.

While waiting a new sound enters my awareness. It sounds like a voice. It gets louder. It is a voice. A woman. In obvious distress. I can see through a couple yards and see a woman scrambling around her yard yelling something over and over. Yeah, you guessed it. It was the little girls mother. I yelled to her and she ignored me and started working her way toward the street. I finally got her attention and asked her if she was looking for a little girl. I simply can’t describe the look on her face when I told her I had found her daughter. None of my words will touch it. Suffice to say she was relieved. She started babbling about the door not locking and the girl never being curious like that before, etc., etc.

I took her to the womans house and there was a tearful reunion. Mother and daughter disentangled themselves from the situation and went home. No harm, no foul. The dust having settled and no police on the horizon we silently assented to call it. As I walked to the lady’s front door I looked back over my shoulder to the assorted “baby things” and then looked at her. She never said anything. She just smiled and I smiled back. There were probably a dozen different ways we could have ended the scenario but this seemed perfect.

She closed her door and I went home and finished my to-do list.

As I was shopping a couple weeks after that I happened on a little figurine. It was in a bin of socks, buried. It was a little girl at an intersection looking up a stop sign. I never even thought about it twice. I bought it along with my other things and took it home. I wrapped it and when I thought no one was home I put it in the lady’s mailbox. No card or “to/from”. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

As the weeks rolled by, of course I was tempted to ask her if she got it, but I knew she did. The only reason I wanted to ask was so she would thank me, so I didn’t confront her. I did, however, chuckle and smile when not long after that there were signs in her yard proclaiming, “IT’S A GIRL”.

As great an ending to a story as it would be, I must confess that I’ve driven by the little girls house a few times over the years and have never seen her. I can only imagine how beautiful those brown eyes grew up to be. I’d put her at about the same age as my youngest son… Perhaps one day they’ll meet and ….Wow, wouldn’t that be weird!

So, anyway, to bring all this back around, I do on a semi regular basis wonder if that moment, and that action and those decisions weren’t, in fact, my real reason for being here. Whether it was just getting that girl out of the road, or maybe re-igniting the desire in a pair of unsuccessful “wannabe parents” whose efforts hadn’t yet yielded anything. Or maybe even setting myself up for a future daughter in law with liquid brown eyes. My son wouldn’t stand a chance. Oh, my gosh, it’s no wonder I don’t sleep much. So… Lessons learned…hmmm. I guess I now know which neighbor I can go to in an emergency for sure. Or maybe people ought to lock their damn doors a little better. Perhaps something less prosaic.

I do know, that I keep this story in my pocket and pull it out to look at on days when I know I haven’t been the man that I want me to be and it makes me feel better.

Do you have any good stories in your pocket? I’d love to hear them…

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~ by trendof1 on June 30, 2010.

3 Responses to “True story…”

  1. Ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe that it was the little girls purpose and not yours?…

  2. Loved that story Dave! I’m sure glad you stopped in time. Your actions touched so many people as we walk through our life adventure.
    I like your wifes veiw point also. I hope that when I’m faceing the Lord, our life’s purpose will be revealed, and I pray that that purpose is fulfilled in His eyes!

  3. I have stories…do I ever have stories but not quite on the scale or magnitude of yours. Different experiences, travels or accomplishments. Most, ok, let’s be honest here, ALL are born out of my overgrown sense of inadequacy, so it tarnishes whatever little sheen they may have. The brief light flickers and in moments, they fade quickly and leave me with yet again the inexplicable question of just what in the hell am I doing here anyway? Maybe I am still here because that moment has yet to be. Maybe the moment has been and God is waiting for me to be smart enough to recognize and celebrate it. If you need any more purpose for yourself, you can know I believe you were meant to be in my world, to let me know there is another being on this planet that ponders and wrestles with the same things as me. Someone with a profound thoughtfulness and sensitivity and the courage to share it with others. To make one small girl in this big universe not feel like such a mutant or that she is all alone. You are that to me. Love and miss you. Sending hugs!

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