A Normal Night Here, a Normal Night There

Sometimes you have to roll down your window, pull up your hood, and take in the eye-watering freshness of fall.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written here. The days are shorter now, and the mornings are cold. There’s a still-new baby in the house, random diapers lying in the hallway, soft cries in the middle of the night. Leaves from the sycamore tree scuttle down the sidewalk, running away from who knows what. The moon, maybe, or tomorrow.

The world is at its uproarious best, and Lord knows there’s plenty to be uproaring about, but sometimes I wonder if we’re creating so much noise that we can’t really hear any of the soft cries for help anymore. Every time Donald Trump breathes there are headlines; meanwhile, Aleppo burns, Haiti drowns, and the same homeless guy wanders up and down Queen Street, cheeks rusted an alcohol red, eyes lost.

But what will we do? What can we do? To be honest, our family is up to our ears in activities and school and always something next on the schedule. We’re under-rested and over-indulged. Every minute of every day is already scheduled so thank you very much but you’ll have to knock on someone else’s door.


What will it take to break us from this rut we’re in?

* * * * *

My wonderful editor at Revell starting working with me through the edits of The Day the Angels Fell, and it’s a beautiful thing, to spend so much time making something into what it really is. I worked on it for the better part of a week, revisited Deen. I was there, I tell you! On the farm again, wandering the dark passageways at the fair.

I wonder if that’s part of the problem, if we’re all moving so fast we never get to revise our lives. I wonder if we ever took the time to pull back and wait, would we actually see what’s steaming at us from around the bend?

* * * * *

It’s okay, though. You’re okay. You’re doing okay, I promise, the best you can do. I know I am.

Tonight, I’ll administer the sacrament of the bedtime snack, and the spiritual discipline of the brushing of the teeth, and the ministry of herding six children off to bed. Tonight, I’ll read to Leo, the same old lineup of “Let’s Go!” and “The Runaway Bunny” and “How Much Do I Love You?” I’ll go up and sing to Sam and Abra, and Lucy will kiss me on my rough, getting-older, bearded cheek, and I’ll think to myself she’d better not be kissing anyone else like that unless they’re prepared to love her at least a tenth of what I do.

I’ll stop by Cade’s bedroom and say goodnight, and I’ll leave him there, reading in the halo of lamplight, and I’ll sigh the sigh of years that move far too fast. If I’m lucky, Poppy will fall asleep on my chest.

I turn 40 this year. Maybe that’s what this is all about.

Maile and I will collapse into bed and chat about the kids, who is doing what the next day, who is on our minds the most, who needs some direction. We’ll turn out the light and talk some more and one of us might even fall asleep while the other is still pontificating – that’s how these days go, and you can’t take offense because you’re stretched thin, too, and sleep is the only pause.

These are those days, the ones that tumble over and over on each other, like the numbered balls in the lottery drawing.

* * * * *

Outside the house, the politicians will rage, the homeless will pull a piece of cardboard or a coat or an old blanket closer around them, and a cat will pause on the roof, staring wide-eyed at the moon. The lights will be on at Saint James, and a police car will pause for a moment outside the barber shop.

Leo calls out in the middle of the night and immediately falls back to sleep. Poppy cries and dreams whatever it is that babies dream about. I wake the next morning. Make some coffee. Watch the lines in between the blinds start to glow as the sun drifts up over James Street.

* * * * *

I watched this video today. These are my children, bleeding quietly. This is my doctor, going from patient to patient. This is my wife, under the body bag. These are our people.

When will we see it? When will we recognize that this is us?

3 Replies to “A Normal Night Here, a Normal Night There”

  1. My husband and I, senior citizens who have seen too much, have been asking each other the same questions you have.
    God must be weeping…..

  2. Your words have a way of touching my heart and mind. You paint a beautiful picture of life! Thank you!

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