Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Rose Window

--by Mike Adams

By Alex Bramwell
He stared unblinking, eyes red, the result of inflamed capillaries exploding in his eyes like tiny volcanoes overrunning a previously pristine landscape.

He blinked and pulled away from the mirror, “I'm not going to hide my red eyes today,” he grumbled as he shook his head and turned sharply for the door.

How had it come to this? A couple decades earlier, he had been excited about life. The future had seemed a treasure chest. Filled with interesting people and ideas, intellectual conversations, love, lust, adventure and movement. Fast forward to now and all of that has been replaced with routine. His life is mostly a series of chores, work, and mundane tasks. 

He is a responsible adult and parent. There seems no room for spontaneity, which is perhaps the thing he misses most. Don't misunderstand, George loves his family, six year old Gracie is a plump symphony of happiness and exuberance. Twelve year old Mason is in seventh grade and shows promise as a burgeoning violinist. While Liz, the eldest, at fourteen seems a latent genius, who waits for her moment to fly free into this world. He smiles, but soon it fades as George remembers how he loved creating and implementing “hair brained ideas” in his twenties.

“Stop thinking that way George! It's time for work.” He slides on his jacket, starts his car and pulls out onto the road. The sound of someone screaming fills his senses and jolts him into the present as he turns in horror to see a huge delivery truck bearing down on him, horn blaring, tires smoking, it is a rogue elephant bent on his destruction and he can't see any way out of being trampled.

“Oh God...I can't die Now! Not like this! There is too much to do!” He inhales deep, closes his eyes, as his body stiffens. He grasps the steering wheel in panic, but nothing happens. Slowly opening his eyes, George looks around timidly, wondering how he could possibly be in the main terminal of the international airport of Phoenix. Next to him, is Frank, his husband of eleven years. The kids are there and everyone is happy. The eldest, Liz beams at him and says, “I can't believe we're finally going to France. I've been studying the language for years now, I can't wait to try it out for real.” He smiles and ruffles the hair of his youngest child, who looks up disdainfully and says, “please don't do that. I hate it.” He nods with a smile, and wonders how that little chipmunk managed to grow so fast. “It seems like just this morning that she was only six and now she's already ten. Wow!”

In France, they immerse themselves in the experience with all the enthusiasm a child has devouring a fresh peach in the middle of summer. George stands entranced in front of the Rose Window at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Suddenly, ten year old Gracie,  hugs him and says, “I love you!” He pauses for a moment feeling disoriented before responding, “I love you too Liz, and I am so proud of you. Henry seems like a fine man and I think the two of you will make a wonderful couple. Don't make me wait too long for grandchildren though.” Liz flushes, smiles and says, “Come on Dad, lets get to the reception, this is your dance.” They walk out together and Liz says, “remember when I was fourteen and we visited this very church and you stared at that window for hours?” George smiles and says, “I was just thinking about that. It seems like it happened only moments ago”

Back to the hotel, George and Frank smile at each other, they are truly in love. Frank says, “you looked so happy out there dancing with your oldest daughter. “ George says, “I was! Can you believe how fortunate we've been? I remember when we were barely able to survive and now we own a house in Maui, and one in Portugal. We have one kid in Europe, one in the US and the third in Australia. We're able to visit all of them often. I'd say Life has been really good to us Frank.” George remembers how hard it was to work through all of the difficult and challenging times, but he's glad they did. It has all been worth the effort. He smiles, kisses Frank and lies down.

Frank nudges George, "can you believe how beautiful Mason's brand new little son is? Oh, and his wife, Stephanie, she is simply wonderful.” George smiles and Frank and responds, “I know and it seems that only earlier this evening, we were celebrating his older sister Liz's wedding. We are blessed.”.

George closes his eyes and then he sees a bright, warm light. He walks slowly towards the light, wondering what it could be. He feels cold, but the light beckons him. It emanates happiness and contentment. He smiles and starts walking, his heart filled with bliss, when suddenly every nerve in his body is screaming with pain. He becomes aware of a long and irritating beep. Again, his body is overcome with incredible pain. Every muscle seizes, his neck and back are rigid and the pain is overwhelming, then he relaxes. The beeping assumes a more rhythmic beat and he sees the light again, but not quite so warm. A doctor leans over and says, “Stay with us George, you've been in a terrible accident, but stay with us. We don't want to shock you again to start your heart, OK.” George is momentarily overcome with panic, then he remembers the truck and he hears his family outside arguing with hospital staff to let them see him. “I was hit by that truck, right!?” The doctor nods and says, “We can save you, just stay awake, OK.” George nods. He won't go back to sleep now, not knowing what he'll miss if he does.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Though We Often Fail, Humans are Pretty Cool non-the-less!

--by Mike Adams

I've been germinating on this for a while. I'm tired and sore and should probably focus on something else, but tonight I want to write a post and I want it to be about something important.

So I'll start by sharing a link. Take a few minutes to check it out...go there right now and read it, then come back and feel free to comment, so here you go:

I first saw this in late December and I couldn't stop crying. Now after reading it again, I can't stop smiling, a tear is lazily strolling down my right cheek and I feel speechless.

But with me, being speechless usually passes quickly, so here we go. I've been thinking about the significance of December 10th 2012 in Seattle and at first I thought I'd say something trite, like “This is the dawn of a new era” (imagine a big booming voice when you read that...OK!) Then I decided that was too stupid. I remembered the Berlin wall being torn down and thought that perhaps Seattle had experienced it's own wall demolition, but finally I realized that this is simply what people do.

We categorize and judge forcing injustice on those who happen to be the minority until finally, there are a sufficient number of people who realize that we've all been wrong and then we begin to change.

It's what I love about people. We keep trying to grow, to be better, in short, to live our ideals. Continually, we fail, but we try and we progress and it makes us beautiful.

In Seattle on December 10th, 2012, we took a step in the right direction and that is reason to celebrate. Thanks to Matt Stopera from buzzfeed for the great post!