As I drove to the restaurant last night for his farewell dinner with just our family, what's left of it here in Grass Valley, I called Melinda to tell her I would be there in five minutes. Mei An was crying in the background because Devon pushed her as she sat down at the table. I asked to talk with her. Through her light tears, she said "hi dad". I told her to save me a seat so she and I could sit next to each other. A few sentences later I was driving alone again in the truck to the restaurant.
Now there are a lot of things that go through my mind when I talk to a person on the phone. With Mei An, I'm imagining how hard it is for her to keep the chatter going, she is always trying to hang up. I envisioned her giving the phone back to Melinda and saying, excitedly, "Dad is going to sit right here... next to me..." She is smiling in my vision of this perfect scene. She feels empowered against Devon who has just been tweaked by my request to be with her for the evening.
This morning as Melinda and I lay in bed waiting for the sleep to ebb away from us and start up the day, I was reminded of how she saved my life down there by the creek. My side hurt, the part of me that still somehow has an ache from the crush point. I have this ringing in my ears, constantly, and it is especially loud now in the mornings. But the thing that was in my mind was that I'm alive. Really alive! That's a gift.
John and I talked about it last night, he called the accident a "near miss". I told him, "I have thought that, but don't anymore. It wasn't a miss. It was a direct hit..." I'm not sure either of us is right. Our black and white minds want to see things as either/or. In this case if I say that the log didn't kill me, it must have been a miss. But the log did kill me, it didn't miss, and I am living now. So it wasn't successful (a direct hit), nor a miss (not by any means) but it was something else, and I'm o.k. not really understanding what that is.
This morning as I talked about my aching side and ringing ears, I told Melinda that I'm so grateful. I almost left this world through death, and felt palatably the bliss that is on the other side of the membrane between the worlds. But by this gift, undeserved, I get to have both. Heaven isn't going away. It will always be there. It's not like saying, "Well we better go visit rural China before westernization ruins it..." Nothing will ruin Heaven. It will always be there. So it is a privilege to feel the pain in my side. A joy to hear the ringing. "Tinnitus" they call it. Just as it is a joy to have had these past 23 or so months while Heaven remains unchanged. I felt light again as I thought of it. I have the chance to sit next to my six year old daughter in the face of annoyance from her older brother. I have the chance to go on one day and finish the journey begun and interrupted toward Heaven.
A few tears. They remind me too that I'm alive. It occurred to me as I lay there, that I never did get the details of what really happened after I hung up with Mei An. So I asked Melinda. With one beat, I could see her put the story back in from memory, she said, "As Mei An was handing me the phone she said, 'Ty - an move'". That was it. I shouldn't have asked. The tyranny she had experience moments ago she was exacting on the next in line. I laughed hard enough to change the source of my tears.
As I talked with Melinda I was imagining the family going on without me. The events and stories about them, the relationships and longings and more... would have happened in my absence. But not this time. I sat next to Mei An and across from my family shortly thereafter, and then this morning I was there to hear it told.
Neither moment would I miss for the world.