March 4, 2017
"Are you home?" the text inquired. "If you are, the kiddos and I would like to come over and hang out for awhile." We weren't home yet. The Panama girls basketball playoffs had just gone into overtime, so another four minutes went on the clock. I called Jess just before leaving the parking lot so she would know when to pack everyone up to come over. I arrived just before they pulled in; Linda drove in shortly after. It was a fun evening, talking the older two and playing with Gemma. Liza told of when she got the barf-flavored jelly bean and puked. It's some sort of game they played. I told her she needed to ask her uncle Matt about the gum he left on his desk for the kids who kept stealing it. I wouldn't give away the story, so they called him and listened to his tale.
A little later Alex stopped by to pick up her sister. She stayed and we talked for more than an hour.
In a span of four hours today, we sat with our eldest son and his family at the basketball game, entertained our daughter and her kids, and talked on the phone with son Matt. This may not sound unusual, and for us, it's not, except for one thing. The day started out with the funeral of a young man who O.D'd, leaving behind his wife, a toddler son, and a baby on the way. Tomorrow is the funeral for another young man who similarly met his fate, and Thursday was the funeral of a young woman who leaves behind a small daughter. This is Sinclairville. It's not a big metropolis, but the scourge of addiction is leaving a swath of death and destruction that is devastating our kids and their families. That I was able to talk to all three of my kids, to play with half of my grandkids, and go to sleep tonight in peace instead of grief is an extraordinary gift for which I am deeply grateful. Too many parents and grandparents no longer have that privilege.