Thursday, October 12, 2006

Courage

AM and Veronica of Toddled Dredge both have very good, get you thinking (Isn't that scary? Me, thinking? Dangerous!) posts about bravery today.
I think (there's that word again- eek!) that's easy to say that given the chance you'd play the hero. I think if we never had to prove it, we'd all say that we would step in to help someone in trouble. But like I told AM, I'm more hesitant when my kids are with me (and good grief when are they not?). When I'm by myself I tend to forget that I don't have to say every little thing that pops into my head (Hello? Anyone remember the incident with police chief? And after a quick search I can't find it so.... forget I said anything. There was no incident with a police chief, my hitting his car and nearly ending up in jail. Nope. No idea what you're talking about. Moving on....).

I've been sitting here with this post for 2 hours now. Starting and then erasing everything I've written because it seems so inadequate.
I started to talk about how I thought being a parent was brave.
But then I remembered that I haven't always been such a great example of that.
Instead all I can think of was when at my least brave (great now I sound like a kid writing her first essay. Go me!) moment, someone took over for me.

It was the beginning of June of this year. Girl was due home from school and Hurricane and I were playing in the living room. The bus stop is right in front of my house so I can always hear the bus pull up. I rarely go out there with her anymore since she prefers to have the time with her friends. In the morning I occasionally peek out from my window.
This day, I heard the bus pull up and through the open window, the sound of kids laughing, teasing, removing the subdued nature of their classwork.
I knew Girl would linger a bit, laughing with friends, making plans for later. I gathered her usual after school snack.
I heard the bus pull away and the voices begin to drift.
I looked to the door and waited.
I frowned. Lingering longer than she normally would. Things to do kid. Walk through that door and let's get busy. Come on kid.
I walked to the window and looked out on a very empty street.
I felt like someone had thrown ice water down my spine. My chest felt a little tight.
It's OK, she just missed her bus. Had to be.
I called the school and after a brief search......

She wasn't there.
I called the bus dispatch and the bus driver checked. She wasn't on the bus. The driver couldn't be sure she had gotten on.

My knees felt weak and I suddenly couldn't stop shaking.

I called my neighbor. Her son and my daughter are friends and surely he saw her on the bus. Had to.

"No, I didn't see her."

My knees crumbled.

Oh God, please.
I started to cry.

And then suddenly my neighbor was there at my door. Ready to step in and hold my hand, make calls, help me find my daughter. Because I had just lost my ability to not shake.

I shake now even thinking about it.

Because for 30 minutes in June, I didn't know where my daughter was and it was the single most terrifying moment of my life and the only reason I didn't completely lose my shit was because my neighbor stopped helping her 3 kids to come over and just be there.

Girl had gotten off at a friend's house. Her teacher had given her a note that I had written that was meant for a previous day. Just a simple misunderstanding.

It seems so simple doesn't it? Maybe it doesn't qualify as bravery by most definitions.
But that day my neighbor was my hero. She was brave when I couldn't be.

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Veronica Mitchell said...

What a faithful neighbor and friend. I am glad she was there for you when you needed her.

Jenny said...

I'm totally shaking a little over here. What a terrifying experience. That you didn't just crumble into a tiny little ball is a mark of your own bravery.

mr_g said...

We all need to know that someone has our back when we can't support ourselves for one reason or another (...another reason for my in-progress divorce). Those friends are to be cherished.