Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A record of existence

Bantering back and forth in a email exchange today with my children, the youngest decried the fact that his baby book was empty, that there was no record of his existence. This is a running family joke, but I took it to heart today and answered him:

A record of existence.

You were born between two blizzards in January 1978. God gave us a breathing space to allow you to appear. I went to work that morning of January 11, thinking we still had some time before you would enter the world. When I got the call, I remember driving home in that 1974 Volkswagen bus, and having the accelerator cable stick—frozen in its long passage from the rear engine to the gas pedal up front. I was turning the corner at 82 and 21, using the side roads because I was afraid of the interstate in that weather. I threw it into neutral as the engine raced and I thought—great--my child is about to be born, and I’m about to die. Miraculously, the cable came unstuck and I worked my way home.

I was working nights and your mother was working days. One morning I woke up and found you sitting quietly on the couch in the living room. You must have been about two. Apparently you thought you were alone in house. I was sleeping and you didn’t realize I was there. I hugged you and told you not to worry because everything was alright.

We had a conversation once when you were older, in eighth grade? High school? You told me how you had been a nerd pretty much up to that point, but you made a conscious decision to change direction, and I remember how proud I was of you in that moment. You decided not to let people pick on you, but to stand up for yourself, and it worked.

High school football didn’t work out, but elementary school was fun. I remember that one assistant coach who thought I was a spy, videotaping the games for some opposing team. What a goof. All I was doing was preserving those memories for us.

Teachers remember you. That high school was never the same after you.

Who was the driving force behind the first ever John Carroll Habitat for Humanity house? Who would never tell us how much money he had accumulated for the project because…because why? You didn’t want to jinx it? That was a stunning achievement, never equaled.

How many people have you touched in your HFH trainings, your campus meetings, in all your work so far? The well of inspiration that you are for all those people seems bottomless—but be careful to take care of yourself in all this, too.

A record of existence indeed.


At 11/20/2008 12:43 AM, Blogger -Ann said...

This is one of the sweetest things I've ever read. And it still makes me cry when I re-read it.

At 11/20/2008 9:10 AM, Blogger laurie said...

what a beautiful post. i'm glad you made it home ok in that storm.

and the thought of the two-year-old on the couch alone, well.....

lovely and poignant.

At 11/20/2008 11:16 AM, Blogger Kaycie said...

Absolutely wonderful. I'd say he's done so much more than simply exist.

No wonder I've become so attached to Ann's blog. She comes by her loveliness genetically, it seems.


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