Friday, December 17, 2010

What have you done with your gift today?

Every now and then, to slap myself out of complacency, I read stories with headlines like the following, that I pulled today from Google:

Dec. 4, 2010. Virginia man kills estranged wife, self.

Dec. 4, 2010. Ohio man kills estranged wife, self.

Nov. 22, 2010. Georgia man kills wife, self.

Oct. 17, 2010. North Carolina man kills wife, self.

Sept. 27, 2010. South Florida man kills wife, stepkids, self.

Aug. 13, 2010. Chicago man kills wife, self.

July 30, 2010. Hyde Park man kills wife, self.

June 12, 2010. San Francisco Bay area man kills wife, self.

And I remind myself that I'm safe. My kids are safe.

So many headlines testify to the fact that many men who feel my first husband's brand of despair take their families to the grave with them. The corporal in charge of the Special Emergency Response Team operation on the day of his standoff told me as much: once a man loses his appreciation for the sanctity of human life, he becomes a dangerous and unpredictable creature.

They don't send dozens of armed troops to your house or dispatch a helicopter from Harrisburg if you aren't in grave danger.

They don't whisk you from your home one at a time, under armed guard, reconvening the family at a remote command center, if you aren't in harm's way.

They don't make the decision to barricade roads and bar people from their homes and make the local elementary school cancel recess and afternoon bus routes on a whim.

The media doesn't swarm to your remote farm, or slap photographs and maps of it on their front pages with headlines like the above, if they don't think there's a story that impacts the community.

Our reality: The day of the standoff, Ron had ample opportunity to hurt the boys and me. Yet because he chose to kill only himself, I have to believe that he was trying to release us from his private hell and his disastrous choices. That isn’t exactly the way it turned out—the repercussions of his act extended much further into the community and further through time than I suspect he imagined—but he obviously wasn't thinking so well.

Is this an odd post for the holiday season? I don't think so.

I'm alive. My kids are alive.

There's nothing like tragedy to tip you into a posture of gratitude. At this time of year, wedged as we are between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m thankful for the simple yet extraordinary gift of life. We take birth for granted—who doesn't? What do we know of its circumstances, at the time? But my sons and I were spared—passed over, you might say—at a time when we were aware that it could have gone down another way.

What an opportunity my sons and I were given. And I am driven, every day, to make the most of it.

If you did something special with your gift of life today, please share it!


Robert Walford said...

Fantastic post, and a great reminder for all of us. I am sorry for your loss, and I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and uplifting Holiday Season!!!

Kathryn Craft said...

Thanks, Rob, and same to you!