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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Normal Day

This morning we set off for school guided by strings of headlights and morning commuters. K-pop played quietly in the back seat while my son listened to music on his phone next to me, eyes closed, his fourteen-year-old head against the window. Looking in the rear-view mirror, my daughter gazed out her window at the blackness. I looked ahead, awaiting an unexpected deer, awakening raccoons, or the frequently misidentified dancing leaves on the pavement. 
What is that?
Did I hit a toad?
Oh, it was just a leaf. There's three more rolling across my path. 

Drop off was typical:
Middle school entrance, 7:05 a.m.
"Bye, sweetheart, love you. Have a great day."

Pull around to the high school, 7:06.
"Remember to check with your lit/comp teacher about that test you missed last week and have a good day. Love you."
"See you later."

I made the four-minute drive across town and parked at my school. A staff meeting would be starting around 7:30, so I had just enough time to do some final prep for the day.

As the meeting began, there were the usual announcements and a summary of what we hoped to accomplish. 


"Oh, and by the way, I think most of you probably have heard already, but in case any of you have not one of our first graders lost their home to a fire yesterday. His mom works in the cafeteria over at the high school. It sounds like some staff members there will be putting out some calls for assistance to help the family...(continues to talk--as I start to slow my breathing)."

I am listening, but I'm not listening because, in my mind, I am reminded of the day after our fire. The day I stood in Meijer (our everything grocery store here) with an empty cart wearing my neighbor's clothes, shoes black with soot, and no coat. I stood there quiet, like I was in this moment now, thinking--What do I do? 

Just as my eyes started to feel like they might fill, the meeting moved on, and I was able to reset my thoughts. Remind myself that I had an average morning. That today, for me, was not the day after one of the worst days. That we are far past the heaviness, but this family is right at the beginning. I hope I can offer support and comfort. 



  1. What a powerful story of compassion and attention. And a powerful message of being grateful for the ordinary.

  2. Very powerful moment. I can imagine you standing in Meijer, not sure where to begin. I feel like that in Meijer on an ordinary day, and clearly you weren't having an ordinary day.

  3. I'm glad this family has you as a resource in your community. Your words captured the moment you stood in Meijer after your fire. And I'm just wondering how your kids got old enough to be in middle and high school.


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