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?