My Daughter was afraid of the dark. So she climbed in bed with my son and he read her a story. As he closed the book, he realized that she had fallen asleep. Like any sweet, kind older brother, he wandered off to her room and crawled into the unoccupied bed.
Chaos, of course, ensued at three in the morning when my daughter awoke in the wrong room, and grasped for her absent teddy bear and blanky. It took Katie and I fifteen minutes to calm her down. I barely closed my eyes before the alarm clock blared.
Four forty five on a Saturday morning.
Thirty minutes later I was closing the door, and striding toward the garage. Four admissions to three different nursing homes last night. One of which was spiking a fever to 102. Another patient tucked into the hospital yesterday afternoon.
The roads were less quiet than you would expect. The sun had not yet risen, and most of the store fronts on Central Street were hidden in shadows. I stopped for a red light at the same corner which I always seemed to time imperfectly. To my left, a beacon of light emanated from the bakery. Inside a middle aged man bustled to and fro directing four or five others.
Every morning I marveled at the hurried flurry of activity. The bakers and I, the only souls in the universe silly enough to be rushing around at such an hour. The owner kneaded dough relentlessly while his workers lifted, carried, stacked, and arranged. Although the light already turned green, I lingered a moment to watch before pressing down on the gas.
The patient at the nursing home had stabilized, her fever was gone. On the way out, I grabbed a few pens and a reflex hammer for the kids. They always enjoyed such little trinkets. I stopped by the hospital and eventually landed in the office.
Saturday morning clinic is refreshingly slow.
Sometime between patients, Katie called to tell me to meet her and the kids for lunch. I finished my paperwork and shut down the computer. The afternoon sun was a stark contrast to the somber morning haze.
Passing by the bakery on the way home was a different experience. It failed to stand out under the glare of the sun. The middle aged man was now helping customers. The store was no longer clean and tidy. The remnants of heavy foot traffic had brought in the dust and dirt. The loaves of bread in the display counter were either absent or jarred to the extent that they no longer sat neatly in the case.
Time will pass, and the store owner will gray and his movements will slow. Driving by from day to day, the changes will be so subtle that I'll probably not even notice.
My children will grow up.
In the brief moments alone before I park the car and jump out to meet my family, it hits me that this is a life.
The sun will rise.
The bakers will bake.
And I will father.