January 2, 2010
original writing 24 August, 2008
I spent part of Sunday afternoon waiting – waiting to see if I could be of any help to Dave and Lea. And as I waited, I spent time thinking. It’s amazing how what one thinks about changes with death.
It wasn’t long and two sad people came slowly walking down the hall. They were “composed” although there were plenty of signs of non-composure – swollen eyes, red noses, and wads of tissues at hand.
I asked if there was anything I could do. They said it would be great if I could get one of their vehicles home. They did not want to drive separate. They wanted to be together.
As I drove Lea’s car, I looked back. There in the backseat, strapped with a seat belt, was an empty car seat. It was too small for Jules. It was Johnny’s.
And it was empty.
I thought of how hard it would be for Lea, Johnny’s mother, to see that empty car seat. I wondered if she would see it empty or would she see it with Johnathan strapped in. Either would be hard. Just the simple act of removing the car seat from the car could overwhelm one with what doing so meant.
I thought of Dave and Lea as they drove home without Johnny. I thought of what it would be like to never bring your child inside your home again.
I thought of what it would be like to walk into Johnny’s room – a room they would never see Johnny in again. I thought of the tears that will flow in the days to come in that room.
As I waited at a stop light, a man carrying a model plane crossed in front of me. The plane was bright yellow. Walking next to him was his young son carrying the controls. I thought of Dave going to the park with Johnny to fly a bright yellow plane against the deep blue sky. I thought of how it will never happen.
At Dave and Lea’s, after parking the car, I walked up to the front door to give them the key. The flowers in the pots lining the entry steps were all wilted. They looked to be in mourning.
I saw a hose in the bushes, turned on the water and watered the potted plants. Then I watered the planter box. As I looked around, all the flowers growing on this side of the house were wilted. It was a home in mourning.
Soon my ride showed up. I got in and glanced back. “Wow,” I said. There were 4 young children strapped in behind my seat. I couldn’t help but compare the ride to Dave and Lea’s with the ride back to my car. One was with an empty car seat. This one filled with children. I wondered how Dave and Lea would feel.
As we turned into the sun, I saw a front windshield full of little fingerprints. Normally I would wonder why they didn’t clean their windshield more often. Now I didn’t. The windshield wasn’t dirty. It was a display of the presence of children. It was a beautiful sight.
Dave and Lea have a long road ahead of them – first a funeral, but then days and months of mourning. Pray for them. Pray for them as they take out the empty car seat, put away his toys, and take down the crib. Pray for the huge hole they now have in their lives. And pray for them not just now, but in the hard months to come.
And pray for Jules – for the hard lessons of life Dave didn’t want her to have to learn so early in her life.
And give thanks for fingerprints on your windshield.