Monday, August 25, 2008

When bad things happen on beautiful days

Movie endings never surprise me. From the very beginning of The Sixth Sense I knew Bruce Willis was dead(1); hell, I even suspected Darth Vader was Luke's father.

My point? Very little catches me by surprise. But when Noa opened the side door Friday evening to reveal a DC homicide cop, well, it shocked the hell out of me.

I was too confused to get immediately upset. Before my mind could go to that horrible place, wondering where my husband and my son were, the detective informed me that my neighbor had been killed. Could I please identify him from a poloroid? And then could I stay with my neighbor's sister until some other family arrived, she's too upset to be alone. Could we do this quickly, he had other families to notify today.

In a way, it was my personal 9/11. And not just from the death angle. Of everything that happened on September 11th, 2001, here's the thing stands out the most to me; weather-wise, September 11th was an absolutely picture perfect day. It was astonishing that such horrible things could happen against such a bright blue sky.

Friday had been the perfect summer day. We celebrated Noa's birthday at the pool; twenty of our favorite people eating chocolate cake, swimming for hours, enjoying the sunshine. The knock on the door should have been a girl scout selling cookies or a neighbor needing to borrow a cup of sugar.

Maybe if life were a movie, I would have been better prepared. I would have realized the suspenseful music was playing. Everyone knows something bad follows the happy party scene. Lilo almost drowns after musical surfing montage. Nobody gets to have all the good times without paying some price.

Lesson learned: Bad things happen on nice days. In movies and in real life.

So that gives me two choices. I can go through life waiting for the inevitable Hindenburg explosion or try harder to enjoy the good times while they're happening. Choose between two cliched extremes. But no more stumbling through each day in a zoloft induce hazed, just counting down until bedtime.

When I went to pay my condolences to my neighbor's father he cried, "I used to have three kids and now I have two."

And just like that, my choice was made for me. Life isn't going to follow a script, and there's no guarantee for a happy ending (2) If bad things can happen on such pretty day, then the converse must be true too. We can make wonderful things happen on otherwise dreary days.

Go hug your kids. Even the pesky one. Especially the pesky one.

1) The movie is fucking 9 years old, if you haven't seen it yet, it's really not my fault I spoiled it.
2) This is a rare serious blog entry and I hate to ruin it with a flippant comment but I do plan, in my friend Rachel's honor, an entire entry about the phrase 'happy ending" and WTF was Friendly's thinking naming their dessert sundae that?


countrymouse said...

Ouch. I don't even begin to know what to say . . .

Teri said...

Ya done good, SG. You were the right neighbor at the right time for that poor family. So very sad.

I'm Julie said...

SG I'm so sorry you had to deal with this, and so, so very sorry for the family. I am taking your advice and hugging my pesky kid, who has indeed been making me nuts all day, and driving me to a giant glass of wine this very evening. And it has been a gorgeous day, here, too. I got no excuses for my irritation.

Thanks for the perspective and prayers will be offered up for your neighbors tonight.

vuboq said...

your writing is beautiful on every day ... even when it has to convey sad news. *hugs*

[and, I agree 9/11 was a stunningly beautiful day, too]

Stimey said...

I'm so sorry. That's really horrible. But a really lovely post. I'm going to go hug the pesky one now. (What if they're all the pesky one?)

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...

Wow. I'm sorry. And a very beautiful post. That struck me too about 9/11, but I never really verbalized it. I am taking your advice and going to hug my pesky kid. And making sure that I don't let the dreary days keep me from making them wonderful.

Amy said...

Thank you all for the nice words and prayers and positive thoughts for my neighbor.

xoxo, Amy

Kate said...

That's incredible! I can imagine my own feelings in the same situation... I would absolutely take it as a reminder to appreciate what I have. Every time I'm in the car on the way home from work and hear a news report of a murdered child or teenager, I look back at those three little toddlers of mine and give thanks for their immediate safety.

I'm so sorry for your neighbor's family - especially for his parents. I just can't imagine what they are going through...

Becca said...

Wow. That's intense.

You write beautifully. I'll be thinking of your neighbor.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Terrifying. I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

Featured on Good Mom/Bad Mom on the Houston Chronicle online:

Rhea said...

I'm not sure whether to make a snarky "look at me" comment or say something genuinely sympathetic.

This was a great post. I found you through The Bloggess' post.

New Age Bitch said...

It's those small moments that suddenly blow up into hugeness that then change our perspectives, and therefore our lives, forever.

You wrote about this beautifully, your small moment of answering the door.

Kylie w Warszawie said...

So sorry. This is beautifully written. And I'm going to hug the pesky one now (of course, they're all the pesky one at some point).

Sarah Louise said...

I remember that too. 9/11 was this sky blue day with no more planes in the sky for a few days.

In my visual of your post, it was dark and crowded, but that's the "movie version."

I especially loved this paragaraph:

"Maybe if life were a movie, I would have been better prepared. I would have realized the suspenseful music was playing. Everyone knows something bad follows the happy party scene. Lilo almost drowns after musical surfing montage. Nobody gets to have all the good times without paying some price."

I am sorry for your loss.

Manager Mom said...

I'm sorry that you had to go through that...

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