Friday, November 28, 2008

Ten Years Later

I have no memory from a few minutes before the crash until I woke up on a gurney at Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, a hospital specializing in trauma that was several miles away, and heard the voice of our friend Andra as she stood over me. Melissa had been taken to Mercy, too, but was then transported to Kaiser because our health plan was there and she was eight months pregnant with Emma. The boys were both taken by separate ambulance to Scripps Chula Vista, the nearest hospital, and Landen was cared for there, but Isaac, because he was only eighteen months old, was then transported to Children’s Hospital even further away than Mercy. At one time the four of us were at four different hospitals, and because it was still Thanksgiving weekend and family had been gathered together, there were enough people to disperse. The whole time elapsed must have been an hour or more I guess.

Today it is exactly ten years later and I still don’t remember any details, thankfully, except passing our friend Jose Chavez and his family as were driving up Telegraph Canyon back home after a rainy day out as a family. What I don't remember at all is that we were at a stop sign across from the golf course only blocks from our house and a man driving a red Suburban was coming toward us and, as Melissa tells it, he didn’t look like he was going to stop, and didn’t. The Suburban struck our white Honda accord on the driver’s side with Isaac directly behind me in his car seat. Except for some bruises, Isaac ended up walked away unscathed. Landen has a scar on his chin that was more visible for years than it is today, and we think the hit he took was from a loose middle seat belt or object inside the car. Melissa went into pre-term labor but walked away okay, too. For years she had nightmarish memories of the drunk driver of the Suburban walking toward the car and standing at her window.

The whole event happened a block or so from the home of our friends, the Stephens. Blair was a San Diego police officer and was off-duty but heard a report of the accident on his radio and recognized the street names and came to us right away, along with his wife, Denise. Calls were made and other friends and of course our family responded right away.

In the same six weeks, Isaac’s adoption was final, we moved into our new home in Eastlake, survived the crash, Emma was born, and Melissa turned 30, all while I was probably trying to do good work in a job I’d been in for only a year. Thank God for times like these where we can experience his mercy, his grace, his provision, and the gift of family in rich and comforting ways.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Road Trip to SLO

Two weeks ago we decided it was time to go on a family road trip since the kids were on their three-week break from school. We took two days to drive up the coast to San Luis Obispo where we stayed two days and visited some of my childhood stomping grounds. The kids seemed intrigued by some of the places I used to go and play: Montana de Oro especially (photo) where they hiked and explored; Bubble Gum Alley and downtown SLO; walking along the creek at Santa Rosa Park, seeing up close the sea lions lying around at the pier at Avila Beach, eating seafood in Morro Bay, and even walking past a concert by Sean Kingston on the Embarcadero. We stopped at Los Osos Cemetery where my grandparents, great aunt and uncle, and several other extended family members are buried, and walked around looking at headstones. Maddie commented as we drove away: “Next time I want to look at all of them (headstones) to see of one of them says, “Birth mom.”

It was good to get away together, and as expected, nice to go back to where I feel grounded.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My first son is now a freshman in high school. I really never imagined the day would come, or maybe I hoped it wouldn’t, and yet I couldn’t imagine a young man more ready for this challenge. He’s ready for it, whether he knows it or not. Landen has the intellectual curiosity, world perspective and biblical foundation and that I wish I had 25 years ago, and that his mom had, although I did have self-discipline, optimism and faith, which he has, too. I’m more excited than I ever dreamed for Landen and the life God has prepared him for. It’s just happening way too fast.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rhonda Buell, a Childhood Friend

Last week I realized that my previous three postings had to do with death. I've been very busy this week at work, and with Melissa and Emma away visiting Granger and meeting our movers, I figured I wouldn't have time to write. But friends, there must be a message here. My childhood pal Joanna (whose birthday was yesterday), wrote a few minutes ago with the sad news that Rhonda Buell died of breast cancer on Tuesday. She was our age, so I'm guessing 39. I'm not fatalistic, but this is another opportunity for me to see that I need to make my days on Earth count, and for me that means living for, and in response to, the gospel of Christ for God's glory.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bedtime Reading on a Summer Night

Here' s a great way to relax and wind down at the end of a long stressful work day: It's warm in the house and all the kids have been cranky, but when it's time to read with Emma she wants to be outside when the sun is setting and she can listen for dogs "chirping" to each other, as she says. (By the way, she considers herself a dog rescuer, and she's found several stray dogs in the neighborhood since we've arrived.) We sit together on a porch swing in her grandparents' backyard, she with her Animal Ark horse book reading aloud, and I with my eyes closed in the coolness of the gloaming, and with each sentence my muscles are relaxing and the tension is released, and I'm thankful for this moment with my first daughter who seems to enjoy this time as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

James Robert Tracy (Cousin Jay)

Tonight at seven, Jay went to be with Jesus. Those were the words my Aunt Carolyn shared with me when I returned her call around 10 o’clock tonight on my way to Pasadena. She and my Uncle Jim rejoice that my cousin Jay is no longer in pain and is home with his King, but I know how deeply sad and exhausted they must be after caring for Jay all these months and years, traveling back and forth between Albuquerque and their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Jay had been suffering from the effects of AIDS and he was only 38 years old.

Tribute to Keith Coros

Today I want to pay tribute to my friend, Keith Coros. Keith was killed last Wednesday as he was crossing a street in South Bend in his wheelchair. I became friends with Keith at Bella Vita Coffee in Granger, Indiana. Keith had cerebral palsy which tended to make conversations very slow and deliberate on both sides, but like the baristas that opened the door and welcomed him with a smile, I too fell into easy and enjoyable conversations with Keith about life, work and eventually his cause.

Keith sought support and understanding for the organization that he founded, Michiana Center for Independent Living. He made it his mission to provide information, accessibility and rights for people who were disabled locally. Unfortunately, finding the help and especially the funding was never easy. In an e-mail on January 5, 2007, Keith told me, “I have met some very nice people as we try to go forward, but I have a feeling that business people don’t take me seriously.”

If you could get beyond the discomfort or embarrassment of not quite understanding him speak at first, and really listened, you’d find that Keith was a very smart and compassionate man who knew what his purpose was. He was determined and independent, and used every tool he knew how to get his message out.

Lord bless you and welcome you home, Keith.

See South Bend Tribune stories July 24 and July 25.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Maddie's deep thought

While we were walking: "... daddy, what if we get to Heaven but we forgot to die?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Responding to Melissa's Blog Question July 21

I wanted to respond to Melissa’s question since I have a blog that I haven’t posted to since last October. First I thought I should mention why I do (or did) feel like blogging.

When I was traveling every week to Texas and back, I hoped it might be a way to stay rooted with my real life while my body was physically removed from my family and the routines of life in Indiana slowly started to fade. The nature of the season was temporary, leading ultimately to life back in California, so the whole period was to be an adventure I could write about.

So for the reasons I haven’t blogged for the past nine months, here are a few:

1. Life gets busy. When I was “living” in my apartment in Texas, the idea of writing everyday seemed doable. It was for a while, but my trips became shorter and less frequent, and the whole travel thing was more sporadic and unpredictable, with recovery periods lasting a long time and the guilt of tasks left undone or time spent with family always taking precedence.

2. What to choose to write about? As weeks pass by, I become frustrated that I can’t capture each enjoyable experience before the next one comes along. The kids will say or do something worthy of cherishing forever, and then it’s gone. I’ll read a passage in one of my books or devotions, underlining or asterisking like crazy, and then I turn the page and forget to share it. I’ll watch a movie, or hear a song, or feel like basking in the weather and wanting to somehow describe it to somebody far away, and then I arrive at my destination, and I forget.

3. Privacy. When I was traveling to Texas I was careful not to say where I actually lived, lest I lead some online predator to my fatherless family. Also, I was careful, maybe paranoid, about getting too specific about my kids, their ages, where they went to school, or something, and simply kept everything I wrote safe or vague. I know there’s nothing fun about reading a blog that doesn’t somehow give the reader a glimpse into the author’s private thoughts or insights, but I was guarded, and probably overly so.

4. Anonymity. I really didn’t think anybody was reading, and frankly I don’t think I ever told anybody that I had a blog at all. Apparently Melissa had a link to it, and at least one person was reading the blog which I figured out when I ran into a friend at Bella Vita (oh no, did I just share a specific place?) and he said he’d read the last posting about bottled water. I was totally convinced nobody had ever seen it.

So these are the answers that come to mind, and just writing them causes me to want to have a do-over and give it another chance.