It could be watching Flight of the Concord clips on YouTube, restarting the dryer because the towels were still damp, brushing teeth, sweating onions for soup, or splashing through the surf on a perfect summer day at the beach. Our days are full of hours which pack themselves with minutes made of moments. In those moments are instants. In an instant is power.
This particular instant in this latest story of our lives was one week ago today. In this instant I was standing in the kitchen talking to my mother as she dried her jar, out of which I had just rinsed the salad dressing.
But, as with all stories, this instant started millions of instants ago.
I'll pick two.
How about the instant I decided to use one of my purses to hold my growing collection of sunglasses and hang it handily in the front entranceway on a hook above the shoe bench. Out of the way, yet handy. Good job, Jordan. The other, I am standing at the stove stirring paparadelle into a new tomato sauce I created for dinner for me and the rascals. Then, I pat myself on the back because I'm making dinner again and I feel my footing beginning to firm one month after Lucy's Shark.
Fast forward maybe 6,742 instants. Craig is in the Outer Banks. My mom comes over because our visiting teachers arrive at 8:00 to visit with the two of us in our home. They came and went. Five minutes pass. I am standing in the kitchen talking to my mother as she dries her jar out of which I had just rinsed the salad dressing. She is getting ready to head home. The door had been unlocked for the five minutes between our visiting teachers leaving and the next instant.
I hear the front door (that darn squeaky thing) open. In front of my mind I thought that sweet Sarah and Christine had come back for something. After I took the six steps toward the front door, in front of my eyes was a too familiar nightmare. You know, that nightmare, where a strange man just walks into your home when your husband is not there and you have four kids sleeping upstairs? That one. The one where you scream but you can't.
Only this was live and in color.
9:03 PM. Tall, skinny, black with dark clothes and a blank stare is coming though the doorway. I stare back in horror bracing myself against the corner of the wall three feet from his brazenness. As I stare in that instant I also shout,
But when the words came out it sounded more like "GUHT OLT!" Because what I later learned was shock rendered my tongue frozen. I could barely speak or yell.
He ignored my bungled plea and took 1 1/2 steps into the entryway in front of me, lifted that purse full of nothing but sunglasses off its handy hook, turned and ran up the driveway.
My mom was there. The porch light was on. Our two cars sat out front. Horror filled the world and drowned it in that instant.
My mom experienced the same swelled tongue and we tried to put words to what just happened like we had both just had major dental work done. Then we panicked locking each door in the house twice.
I called the police, Seth came out of his room a scared little boy (had never gone to sleep and heard the whole thing). The officer and his lights came and recorded the instants of interest. I called Craig. He felt very far away. My Dad came. They slept downstairs.
I spend the next while talking Seth down in a fake happy-calm voice. 12:00am. Seth asks, "When will I forget this night?" Soon after he drifts off. I want to go crawl between my mom and dad in the bed downstairs and be 12 again. Instead I go and my Dad gives me a blessing. In it: promises from God of calm, peace, safety and love.
In an instant resides all the power in the world. This instant does not however, as one might suppose, get its power from the possibility of change, but from the effect change can have on ours and others capacity to strengthen and love. If nothing else this summer, I am learning this. But also learning that I have to choose to accept that effect and facilitate it. Part of me wants to crawl into a tiny hole where nothing else can fit but my own shivering well-being. This is not right though. We have an expanse to fill and embrace in this life and we have to start now. Even when we feel like we are being destroyed.
I know with time, soon even, I will draw up the blinds again in the family room. I won't be shaken to the ground when the UPS man drops a package on our porch. When that time passes, I'll go out in the dusk to shut the coop. I'll stand at the window after dinner admiring the tiny birds in the tip tops of the three oaks instead of scanning the area for potential prowlers.
Today is the first day of school. I promise a picture and some prose on that later. But today here, one week after what we are referring to as "the larceny", I had to continue our story.
But, like all true stories, there is no true ending. We just keep going on and on. And in that endlessness I'm finding gratitude in the instants along the way that God has guided. Our own, and those who are helping us go on. To name just a few,
A mother with me.
A decoy purse in plain view.
Friends who weren't invited to that one wedding so that they were with us instead at the beach on 7/19.
I reviewed that chapter in a favorite book last night with my mom. Where the author defines the Hebrew word from the book of Genesis, Timshel: Thou mayest. We found such truth and power in these words.
"I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden.