In An Instant

Our covered porch has been largely unusable for several years. In the spring, we decided to clean it up and make a space we could enjoy. One night, my daughter, JB approached me.

JB: Dad, we should make the porch a hanging porch where everything is a swing or hammock.

Me: That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

One day later…

Me: So, tell me about this thing you call a hanging porch.

After some hard work and several swipes of the credit card, I’m sitting on the hanging bed typing this post. It was a great idea, I admit. And since we live in the woods, it comes complete with nature.

In fact, a little Carolina wren built a nest in a decorative watering can and she’s very vocal about her property claim to the porch. In the beginning, I tried to dissuade her from building in the can because our neighbor has several cats that often trip the motion detectors on our security camera. Fearing for the safety of future baby birds, every time she started building her nest, I dumped it out. And every time I dumped it out, Mama Wren began building again until I gave up.

Her eggs hatched recently. At first, I knew it because Mama Wren’s angry screeching became louder when I dared enter her porch. Then I started to hear them squealing for her. It was kind of fun watching nature take its course. As they grew, poor Mama Wren flew in with worms over and over. She became a nonstop, feeding machine.

And in an instant… it all changed.

One morning I saw the watering can lying askew on the porch and I knew. I set the now-empty can back on the table. Empty but a few twigs. I find myself very sad about the baby bird’s fate and poor Mama Wren.

Mama Wren came flying in with a worm in her beak and looked inside. No one to feed. No explanation. Her babies were gone.

IMG_0363

Things can change in an instant!

We have friends whose 21-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident last week. In an instant, their life tragically changed. I’m so broken for them. I’m so sorry for the loss of their precious girl and the potential that has been ripped away from this world. For the anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays that will have an enormous hole in them, and their new life that is a constant mix of joy and grief. I can only go a couple of minutes without picturing their faces and whispering a prayer of comfort.

Their grief journey will be different then mine. But having lived the unimaginable and being a few years down the road, I wanted to send a message of support. As I logged onto Facebook, I noticed that the last message between us was on February 13, 2015, the day Kylie died. On that day I received a sweet message of love and support. What a circle.

 

My thoughts put in words today are two-fold:

First: Life is meant to be lived in community, not alone. We are all called to bear each other’s burdens when they are too heavy to be lifted alone.

Second: Love well, say what needs to be said, and make the most of every moment you have. For you never know when the cat will come and your life will change in an instant.

 

Mama Wren keeps coming. On some trips, she has a hopeful worm in her mouth that she leaves with. On others she warns me to stay away from her nest with piercing threats. When will she know that her work is complete?

 

 

Dear Ms. Cooper-Jones… I’m Sorry

Dear Ms. Cooper-Jones,

I ran yesterday. If we knew each other personally, you would know that isn’t unusual. In fact, I did some quick math and estimated that I’ve run about 2500 times in the past 10 years. Yesterday was different, though. Yesterday I ran 2.23 miles in honor of your son.

Since that horrific video erupted on Wednesday, I have become distinctly aware that my American experience is not everyone’s. It certainly wasn’t Ahmaud’s American experience. In all of my runs I have never felt threatened except maybe when a car got too close. How did we come to this, I wonder? Is it because people like me have lived in a white, suburban bubble of naivety and never taken the time to look beyond ourselves? Oh, I’ve had Black friends all my life and I am fortunate that my parents raised me to judge a person by their character, not their skin. But I never knew that a posse could still exist in my America. I never knew…

You should know that Ahmaud has had a profound impact on me these last few days. I believe your comments about his character, but what I saw in that video was raw courage. When threatened by a predator, Ahmaud moved forward instead of running away. We need more men of courage like your son in this world. I’m so sorry he is gone.

I’m also sorry you will celebrate May 8 without him from now on. We have something in common, you and I. Every February 13, I celebrate my daughter, Kylie’s birthday without her. She would be 18 now if cancer hadn’t taken her. For me, the loss of potential is the hardest thing to take. It physically hurts to know that Ahmaud and Kylie had something special to give this world and we are poorer because those contributions have been taken from us.

My family had the benefit of being by Kylie’s side at the end and she urged me to fight childhood cancer. That’s what I do with every fiber of my being. What Ahmaud would tell you to do now? He is bringing people together in a mighty way right now to fight this injustice. I would urge you to do whatever you can to keep his name alive, whether that means continuing this fight or something else. Working in Kylie’s memory is all that has kept me going these five years – while at times it is painful, it can also be cleansing.

The loss of a child is so unnatural and overwhelming. Please seek help and surround yourself with people who love you and loved your son. Cry whenever you need to and don’t feel guilty on the first day you don’t. You and I will never get over our losses, but we must learn how to move forward. If I can help with this new journey through grief in any way, you have but to ask.

Ms. Cooper-Jones, I want you to know that I wept for you and for Ahmaud as I ran. And I wept for this country that can’t seem to get it right. I truly hope Ahmaud is helping us turn a corner.

But your son… your son brought tears out of an old white man and got him to write a letter to you. That’s something, isn’t it! Your brave young man is still working hard.

I am so very sorry for your loss,

Mark Myers (Kylie’s Daddy)

 

SONY DSC