It snowed last night—a heavy dusting of the fluffy white stuff. I almost forgot that such a thing was possible. It looked so beautiful on the big old beech trees in the park across the street from our house. It made me wonder if maybe the world isn’t on a collision course with its environmental end just yet.
I took Cole to the dentist and then to school on the snow-covered roads. I looked at him in the elevator on the way up to get his teeth checked out and he looked so old to me. His big eyes, handsome face, and ruffled blond hair on a body that increasingly isn’t so little anymore, with more and more muscles every day. It made me cringe with the passage of time and also look at him with a certain kind of wonder that comes with the observation of your own child growing up before your very eyes, even a 7-year-old on the cusp of turning 8.
After taking Cole into school, I got back in my car and set off to see my shrink, Steve. We have a funny relationship—more like friends than a guy who prescribes me anti-depressants to get me through another day. I go through stretches where I don’t see him because I’m doing better or because I get sick of what feels like a very high-priced opportunity to talk about Howard Stern and rehash politics. But I wanted to run my idea of a sabbatical by him. And to update him on the holiday successes and start-of-the-year disasters.
Driving into town on Storrow Drive, the traffic was heavy—stop and go. I flipped on the radio and tuned into NPR. I think it was the BBC, but I can’t be sure.
What I heard was a mother and then a father describe the scene at the fire station at Sandy Hook moment by moment as each ultimately determined that they had lost a 7-year-old child. I listened to each describe the initial scenes of chaos and got to the point where, at 3 p.m., everyone in the room was told that their loved one had not made it. Then I shut the radio off. I couldn’t listen anymore.
It didn’t matter. The sound of those two parents is still stuck in my heart. Maybe it is a sign of some progress that they engendered so much emotion that I had to admit to myself that I couldn’t handle listening anymore. Maybe it was the juxtaposition of watching my son so closely this morning and feeling such profound love for him that the very idea of losing him wouldn’t be something that I could face in any tangible way.
Steve approved of my plan. His propensity to tell stories about himself rather than actually listen to me was cut short by the intensity I brought to the session. Hearing myself talk about why I need to go inside, to cut off my outside entanglements, to get off the social media grid, and to live with the discomfort of long stretches of silences only confirmed to me that I am on the right path here.
As did hearing those voices. There are some things that are a lot more important than a Twitter fight. I want to feel my feelings again. And ruminate on what, in the end, is my contribution to make to my family and my world.