We’re three weeks into the new year, and I really feel like I want to sit down, pat the cushion next to me and invite 2016 to an honest-to-goodness Come to Jesus meeting. Here’s how I think it might go:
Me: Well, 2016, I know you’re still new here, but I have to tell you — and I say this as a friend who cares — so far, you’ve been really rather craptastic.
2016: What?! Me?! But how…?
Me: In the short time you’ve been here, you’ve given pretty much nothing and taken a lot away. People. You’ve taken people away. For starters, you took David Bowie, and then a truly good young man who had so much yet to give the world. Then more musicians and Professor Snape! All in one week! As an encore to all that, you took away even the slightest winter warmth. Many of us sat shivering, wondering who you’d take away next. And, personally, all this was falling on the heels of the holidays — which were a lovely send-off from 2015 — but the first holidays without my dad. So, I’m sure you can see how your debut isn’t being as well received as one might hope….
2016: Wow. Since you put it that way, I see what you mean.
Now, I’m sure my little heart-to-heart with the New Year will surely set it straight, and we’ll all be enjoying a much more pleasant February. I think it’s fair to give 2016 the next week to pull itself together and create a kinder, gentler agenda for us.
In all fairness, I do admit that a bulk of the sad, depressing events had nothing to do with our young, fresh-faced 2016. They’re things that happened. Things that we’d wish with all our power and prayer and hearts wouldn’t happen. But they did. And I’d like to think we’re a little better for it, because we can fondly recall the artists and their crafts. How their performances moved us at pivotal times in our lives, how they may have even helped shape us into the people we are today. It also brings us perspective — acknowledging the death of someone from or youth marks us in a way. It categorizes those of us “at a certain age,” where we will begin wistfully remembering things from “back in the day.” For some, that’s a wake-up call; a vivid reminder that we aren’t getting any younger, and perhaps it’s time for us to take a hard look at our priorities and be sure we’ve got them in proper order.
And then there’s that young man. Oh, the thought of it and his now too-young widow… oh my gosh. My heart breaks all over again just thinking of them. His name was Andrew Smith, only 25, and many may have heard word of his death through various sports media outlets. He was a Butler basketball player, #44, when my beloved Bulldogs started showing up at The Big Dance. When cancer came calling, he fought back. He fought with everything he had, which in addition to incredible strength, included unbelievable grace and unwavering faith. Throughout his battle, he and his lovely wife Samantha turned this profoundly bad thing into something good: bone marrow registry awareness. They received good news that a donor had been matched to Andrew, and he had a bone marrow transplant last November. Sadly, by early December, the cancer had grown into full-blown leukemia, and the transplant had failed. I read Samantha’s blog throughout their ordeal, and the funny thing about reading those personal glimpses into their lives — into Andrew’s courageous battle — is that an emotional bond forms. I felt it. Everyone felt it. We were all a collective hot, weepy mess the days following Andrew’s death. Maybe it was also because we shared the same devotion and love for Butler. Maybe it was just because Andrew was one of those people who EVERYONE loves, solely based on the fact that he was truly good. Samantha’s own words were, “His kindness is instantaneous to strangers and his caring nature and ever-gentle heart is felt by every person lucky enough to have any sort of relationship with him. Truly, Andrew exudes and shines the Light of Christ.” I mean, I’ve met good people before. Sometimes even really good people. But when words are chosen to describe someone as exuding and shining the “Light of Christ,” well… that’s probably about the best a person can be, really. If the mention of this young man’s death generates event he smallest pause for you, do the world a favor and check into the bone marrow registry process. All it takes is a quick swab on the inside of your cheek to be registered, and the upside of it is that you could potentially save someone’s life. Go to www. bethematch.org to learn more and find out how you can help.
So, yes, 2016… got off to a rocky start. But, as they say, actions of our past don’t have to define us! Look at February as a fresh start! I knew for sure the other day that things had reached the point — you know the one, where you ride the emotional roller coaster long enough that you end up finding a way to laugh in the face of adversity — the other day at my son’s middle school. It was an average afternoon, picking him up as I do quite often. We’d gotten some snow and ice the day before, so the parking lot still had a lot of accumulation in spots. As I and the other parents were dutifully making our way around the parking lot, from four rows of cars, merging into two, and then finally the single pick-up line in front of the school, someone ahead of me clipped a traffic cone. This was unbeknownst to me. I was just creeping along, minding my own business and enjoying the hell out of my heated seats. After making the turn at the rear of the parking lot, I could hear the snow and ice crunching under my tires. What I was unaware of, was the fact that the “crunching” I heard was actually the tipped over traffic cone being dragged under my car along said snow and ice. Of course, because I’m me and this is precisely the kind of crazy-stupid thing that happens to me, I had no idea and proceeded through the pick-up line. It wasn’t until I reached the front of the school (and in full view of ALL the middle schoolers waiting for their parents) that a teacher stopped me and was all, “Yeah, you’ve got a cone under your car.”
She bent over to look, then clarified, “Oh, wait. You’ve got three of ’em under there. I don’t know how we’re gonna get those out of there.”
I’m sorry. Three cones?! I know there was no way I’d run over three cones, but then she clarified even further, telling me that they’d been stacked together into one oversized “supercone.”
By this point, the assistant principal came over and proceeded to extricate these cones out from under my car. Naturally, this wasn’t a case of simply grabbing it out from under my car. Nope. It took him a few minutes of active, hard tugging to free two of them. Then he had to go in for the last one. Meanwhile, the other parents are being directed to drive around me, surely getting a good, long look at my unfortunate circumstance before stopping to load children. Naturally, I felt horrible about (possibly) destroying their traffic cones, and apologized profusely. I was also mortified, because I’d driven around the entire parking lot with these stupid orange cones dragging under my car. And I was a little miffed, too. I mean, seriously! You mean to tell me other parents in pick-up line saw this happening and couldn’t tell me?! All it would take is a little toot of the horn, motion for me to roll down my window and FOR THE LOVE, tell me I’m dragging school property underneath my car. Nope. Everyone just kept quiet, creeping right along with me. Probably snickering. Yep — I was “that mom.”
Cue the laughter.