"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change." ~John A. Simone, Sr.
It's funny how change can sometimes creep up on us like the progression of seasons. We notice it slowly at first, a red leaf here a cool breeze there and eventually after a slow and steady transformation we're in winter. This is the kind of change we're used to; the kind of change we like. It's just like how we outgrow diapers and training wheels. After a slow and steady process we one day find ourselves fully prepared and ambitious. However, there is another type of change.
In sharp contrast to a steady transformation, the second type of change is most akin to that dark and ominous character lurking behind a shady corner in that one horror movie you love to hate. He waits for the most inopportune moment to attack. We stand perfectly oblivious to his presence until suddenly with a burst of energy he takes us from behind and we are rendered helpless. How did this happen? Like this...
"well, I guess we'll see you sometime."
That's what my mom said to me as we desperately avoided eye contact as we both knew that it would result in the inevitable tears that we were both trying so hard to conceal. Then they drove off as if leaving for the weekend or maybe just a trip to go eat out somewhere in Cool Springs. But no, this time it's permanent. This time they're not coming back. I watched them drive away until they were out of eyesight then knowing myself better than maybe I'd like to, I retreated to the kitchen. I then proceeded to look through my phone to try and find someone who might understand the situation, but alas I was alone. I was terrifyingly and completely alone. I cried, a lot. So change hit me. Change hit me like a bitch off of one of those Jerry Springer type shows. She hit me like I stole her baby and renamed it Alfred after my favorite super hero butler. She hit me like I sold her rehabilitated sister crack cocaine on her way out of the hospital. She hit me hard and she didn't apologize but what did I expect?
This story is as much about change as it is expectations. Change is scary because it's different because it's (are you ready?) unexpected. And while most times we are somewhat able to predict the major changes that will happen in our lives, sometimes we get a fly ball from left field... or to left field, however that expression goes.
When my mom left she didn't say, "you're on your own now." But that's what she meant.
I started to think about change today because a long time friend of mine named Josiah Berger was involved in a very bad car accident last night. He has suffered brain damage the likes of which the doctors still don't fully understand. Josiah and I grew up together and although I haven't talked to him seriously in quite some time, it still hit me in a very powerful way that a man of his stature could be struck down by life so quickly. It took me back to a time when I myself witnessed first hand the way that life can strike us down. One of my best friends in the world was involved in a life threatening car crash during my junior year of high school. He had serious brain damage and when I arrived at the hospital I was told that my best friend was very likely going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life. Words have never echoed so deeply and with such clarity as those did that day.
I was among the few who were allowed to visit Konrad in his unconscious state in the Intensive Care Unit. Konrad's dad and I (who had never had a real conversation), stepped slowly as we paced the steps down the overly sanitized hallway on our way to those ever ominous doors. Behind those doors was what can best be described as a workshop. All around me I saw people mangled and disfigured. I felt like I was at a workshop for broken toys. Surely they fixed people in a similar fashion. I wondered if I'd even recognize him when I saw him. I briefly pondered what reaction I might have upon seeing Konrad's face. I thought maybe I'd spontaneously burst into tears and huge sobs. Or maybe I would stand silent. Terrified.
The most unexpected part of the whole process was the look on Konrad's dad's face when we stood next to his bed. I had known Mr. Jeff to be the strong silent type for my whole life. I had never heard him say more than a sentence to me or anyone else for that matter. Needless to say, I had never seen him show any sort of emotion.
So we stood. I, the terrified boy who had no idea what this new future held, next to the grown man whom I thought would be strong and silent as always. But change is a funny thing because it changes people (get it, change changes people. weird).
When I finally managed to summon the courage to look into Mr. Jeff's eyes I was astonished by the way that weakness transposed every other emotion. His hand over his mouth, he stared at his first born son as if the other twenty people in the open space didn't even exist. Tears did not crawl, they poured from his eyes as his face contorted in ways that I didn't know was possible. Here was a man who was so broken he wouldn't have felt an earthquake if it would have ripped the floor from beneath our feet. He saw nothing, felt nothing, knew nothing except for the fact that his son was hurt and there was nothing he could do to change it. I am of course speculating because I don't know what was going through his head and I think it would be a terrible injustice to try and explain his thought processes any further.
So I did the only thing I knew to do. I hugged him and told him it would be ok. I didn't know it would be ok, hell I didn't even know if Konrad was going to wake up. But at the time, it just seemed like the right thing to say. So we stood, the two of us, crying.
The moral of the story is that no one ever really knows when change is going to hit them like some sex driven maniac from flavor of love. None of us are safe. Nothing will ever last forever, and for that we should all be truly thankful. Sometimes it will feel too early, sometimes too late, and sometimes it'll be just right. But change is always unexpected. Nothing is ever as it seems.
While I have no idea what the future holds for the Berger family, I do know this one thing. It's going to be ok. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon enough, everything will be ok.
"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies." ~Author Unknown