SOMETHING I WROTE 15 YEARS AGO
I learned a couple of things this week.
My daughter taught me.
My oldest daughter. Aubrey. She is 13.
And she has had a very hard week.
It went wrong the other day after gym class, when she ran back to the locker room, to pick up her stuff.
Her stuff in the locker and the book bag beside it and as she picked it up it seemed different. Out of whack.
So she opened the book bag and inside were the tickets. The ones she had saved in her wallet. Scattered all around.
When she goes to a movie, she saves the ticket. She files it in her wallet and can go through them and the movies they represent and what she thought of it and who went with her.
And they were scattered around.
Because someone had been in her wallet, and in her book bag and digging around in it her CDs were gone. Twenty-four of them, all zipped up in a plastic carrier.
She almost cried as she told me.
Which is saying a lot, because Aubrey doesn’t cry.
She sat at the dining room table with the stack of holders which had come with the CDs and said that they were her life. I thought it an interesting overstatement until she went through, holder after holder, recounting how long she had saved for each one or who had given it to her for what occasion and what songs she listened to on which CD when.
Her sad songs and her happy songs and her angry songs.
And they were all gone.
And at 40 years of age, watching the agony on her face, I understood why thievery was wrong. I understood it like I never had in my life. I had known intellectually that it was damaging and bad but she taught me emotionally and deeply how evil and selfish it was.
And for a day it weighed on my mind.
Until the next time she almost cried.
After school she had gone out with a friend, the day of the big rain, to a creek down the road from the house. It was running full and dirty but they were 13 and adventuresome and they made a mistake.
They went in swimming.
And it went well enough until the little waterfall and the decision to jump, one after another, off the top into its depths. Barely a trickle most of the year, fairly raging with runoff all muddy and brown.
And so, as seventh-graders will do, they lept as friends and went down through the water, which wasn’t that deep, and kicked up for the air but it was strangely difficult.
The water was heavy with its load of silt and it buffeted them and spun them and it dragged at them in the swirl of undertow and when they breached the air the first time they were afraid and it quickly pulled them back down again.
After that it was a panic and a struggle and a reaching for one another, screaming when their heads broke the water and then, as she told it, the sad, heartbreaking realization as she clawed for breath that she was probably going to die.
Sheer panic and engulfing terror as she grabbed at anything and thrashed and it kept her down and she blacked out.
Just like her friend did.
Two kids in the undertow.
Unconscious and lost.
Or so it would seem.
But something happened.
They remember being in the water and feeling its pressure against them and pushing into their lungs and then they remember nothing. They were out. For who knows how long or how far.
But the water released them, and something bouyed them, and something brought them back.
He came to screaming her name and she came to on her back, her body rushing downstream, past a pile of flotsam which she reached out to and grabbed. And she lay there weak and dazed til he made his way to her and shouted that she had to get up.
And out of the water they crawled, their skin ashen and their lips gone black, the bruises and cuts on their limbs a strange purplish color.
They were weak and shaken and it hurt to breathe, but they were alive.
And maybe it was angels.
Or their parents’ prayers or the God who walked on water freeing two of his children from its grasp.
And she told me with tears in her eyes and the quaking that comes from a meeting with death. Neither of them slept that night, petrified, and even now they shake their heads and sit wide-eyed, dumbfounded.
And when I saw that the CDs didn’t matter so much. None of it seemed to matter so much. And that’s the second thing she taught me.
Because they should have been dead, and it would have happened in a moment in the dark and we wouldn’t have known and there would have been a search and the questions and the haunting hellacious terror too many parents know.
Until they turned up two weeks later at the Ford Street bridge.
But somebody saved them.
And it must have been God.
Aubrey taught me about him this week.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2015