Friday, March 22, 2019

Hold on Tight

"Good night," I called to the custodian as I walked to my car.

"Have a good night," he replied, carefully wheeling his cart of cleaning supplies and rolling garbage can toward the multi-purpose room.

It was 6:00 p.m. and the parking lot was fairly empty. I noticed a man standing outside an SUV in front of the open back door and could hear the sounds of crying, but I didn't think much of it. It's not uncommon, after all, to hear children crying, especially at the end of a long day. I stepped off the curb and began to cross the parking lot. Just then, a fire truck with lights flashing turned into the drive and headed straight toward me, followed by an ambulance. I picked up my pace and glanced over at the man as I passed by. He looked rather frantic and the girl sitting in the back seat was clearly distressed, tears streaming down her face while she bawled uncontrollably. I hesitated in my steps, unsure if I should offer help but realizing if a call to 911 had been made, the paramedics were better equipped to deal with whatever situation was unfolding than I. I continued to my car, but sat there for a minute, wondering what could have possibly happened. Was the little girl sick or injured? Or was there someone else in the car that I hadn't seen that was in need of help? I fervently hoped that, despite evidence to the contrary, everything was all right.

I drove away, not knowing the answers to my questions, but disturbed by what I had seen. It struck me, not for the first time, just how fragile life can be. One minute it's an ordinary day and you're going about your business expecting that the rest of your evening will play out as planned. Then the next minute, everything has been shot to hell and not only are things not going as planned, but you have no idea what is going to happen next.

With that thought, all I wanted was to be at home so I could gather my boys close and hold on tight.

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