I had a handful of nonsense to write about mid-summer; column topics with guffaws and lessons and perspective.
For example, I accidentally dipped my hand in hot, quickly drying cement while installing a mailbox. The hand was caked with glop, like something out of a Marvel movie. Then, because I always learn from my mistakes, I tried to tamp down a lump of the drying cement with my relatively new shoes. The result was, of course, cement shoes fit for Jersey waters.
Other possible topics included heat safety, world peace, barbecue, two more delightful mailbox-related anecdotes and—without question the biggest debate raging through Ocala these days—why Chick-fil-A is not building a store on the east side of town.
But I shifted gears when my wife walked in from a neighborhood party recently and said, “I need you to listen carefully.”
Those words are important because (1) I have selective husband hearing, especially while watching Bob’s Burgers, and (2) at 55, I have the attention span of house plant.
The look on Amy’s face indicated this was no time for jokes.
Two longtime friends were in a serious car accident. They survived, but they were in bad shape; one was airlifted to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, the other transported to a hospital in Jacksonville. There is an astonishing number of broken bones. They are lucky to be alive, but the road to recovery will be long.
These are good guys—fathers, friends, community leaders, music lovers. We run into these gents often and we stop to catch up, we look at our watches and we vow to have a beer together soon.
And we mean it. But we never do.
There is always tomorrow. We’ll get together when life calms down. She’s in college now? Yowza, it has been way too long.
I listened intently as Amy filled me in on every detail she knew. Then came that awkward sigh that introduces a complicated question: How can we help?
It is a tough question for the families, as it puts the onus on them during an intense swarm of stress. Casseroles? Balloons? Interpretive dancing? One mutual friend is taking care of a lawn. Nice. Practical.
As I write this, we are conferring with the families and figuring out a plan. Yet that plan needs to extend beyond recovery. That plan, like all good plans, needs beer. That plan is to follow through—finally and definitively—with getting together one day. Find that one day, make it more than one day, slow down, sit down, talk, laugh, toast, and make the most out of “lucky to be alive.”
Don’t just recognize epiphanies, take them as shoulder taps from God. Act. Adapt. Embrace.
Make sure the people you love know you love them. That is better than any casserole (except ones with bacon). Also, a Chick-fil-A sandwich from the east side of town would be nice, too. But don’t get us started … OS