Saturday, September 11, 2010

Street Ball

Nine years and one week ago, I learned that I would become a father. Nine years ago, people flew planes into buildings and a field in Pennsylvania. Like many of us, I learned something terrible was happening while at work. With reports and rumors of more planes coming towards DC, a strange new type of worry settled in. My wife worked in an office not far from the Capitol building. Not my wife, my pregnant wife.

Schools sent students home. We closed our office, then I headed home. It was a stunningly beautiful day. One of those cool, crisp, pre-autumn days with clear blue skies. Just like today. If you live in the mid-Atlantic, there are a few weeks in the Spring and a few weeks in the Autumn that are without compare. The beauty of that day a stark contrast to the unfolding calamity.

I drove into our little inner-suburban neighborhood of circa 1940 brick capes and colonials. We play a lot in our street. Soccer, hockey, wiffle ball. We walk our dogs and jog. On that day, that incongruently gorgeous day, children threw a football to each other in the street. Passing by them I thought, no matter what else, all will be okay. It will be okay because kids play ball on my street. My wife arrived home soon after. She layed in bed listening to NPR while I fixated on the images from CNN.

It's been nine years almost to the hour when that image of playing football in the street forever etched itself into my memory. Since then I've been blessed with a son and then another son. I've been so fortunate in so many ways: family, friends, career. I've also lost my wife. And without commenting on the state of affairs within our nation and the toll taken by the loss of so many brave lives to war, I wonder how I can hold fast to that memory? All has not been okay. Not even close.

As I contemplate the nature of god, life, and chaos, re-incorporating playing ball in the street now becomes very important. I've never prayed for kids to play ball in the street before. Today I will.


  1. As I read this, kids are playing ball outside the window of my inner-surburan home. We took a bike ride today in Sligo Creek Park: dozens of people out walking dogs and parents with toddlers and babies filling the playgrounds. New life continues even as so many mourn on this perfect, clear autumn day. Nicole

  2. I wonder if you can remember how you felt bringing new life into existence at such a time. And how worth it that all was. And how that new life will come again, not only do people keep having babies (which surprises me pretty much every time) but also how they can hold and love them in the face of such a hard, sad world. It's up to us to make it bright. You do so by parenting and I do think it will shine again. Maybe playing ball is key. Anyway I'm sure it will go on.