July 31, 2013
This morning came with a steady rainfall. With a free day ahead of me, I decided to head to the Y instead of out for my usual morning run. So as soon as we had finished breakfast I asked my grandfather if he was interested in coming along. He had too much business to take care of so I went alone.
Finishing my laps, I stood up at the end of the lane and took off my goggles. When I did so I noticed a lady and young girl who were watching me. The child was obviously learning to swim, with the floatie strapped onto her back, so I started to go talk to them, wanting to talk to others who were involved in the swim lesson process. As I walked towards them, the lady smiled and told me that they were just talking about my swim cap. The girl had never seen one before and was asking if I had no hair. I smiled at her and took off the cap to show that I, in fact, had a great deal of it. Then I explained to her the reasons people wore such things. In my case, I did it because back when my hair was blond, I had to worry about chlorine turning it green. The girl grew wide-eyed at that notion, and I remedied it with the clarification that now that my hair had turned darker and redder, it didn’t really do that. I pointed out how the two of them had similarly red hair.
As we talked a bit more, the lady mentioned that she was in the process of adopting the girl. I was obviously confused, noticing how alike they looked, and so she noted that she was also the girl’s aunt. Her parents had just died, last month in fact.
“I’m so sorry! An accident?” I asked.
At this point the child took a few practice dips in the water, submerging herself as she kicked around and dove underneath.
The lady took advantage of the moment to say “No,” shaking her head sadly. “No accident”
Tears sprang to my eyes as I gasped, Oh!
When the girl emerged from her dips and dives, she began to talk to me some more. I told her that I had been visiting my mother recently, and that one of the things I had done with her was swimming. I wanted her to know that my father had died when I was a child, so I worked that into our conversation as well. “How did he die?” she wanted to know.
I told her it was an accident.
She grew solemn as she said gravely, “My parents didn’t have an accident.”
At this her aunt jumped in. “Yes,” she argued, “Your parents did have an accident. We don’t know exactly what happened . . .”
Looking at us both, the girl asked, simply, “What’s an accident?”
It took me just a few moments to race through some words in my head until I came up with this: “An accident is something that happens that is not supposed to happen.”
Her aunt nodded her agreement, smiling. I smiled with her as we realized the child seemed satisfied with this.
Lord, may she grow in wisdom and in grace . . .