When I was 9


Ya know, when I was 9 my mom worked for an older guy named Abe and I got to tag along.  He'd smoked his lungs into a couple of tar bags that didn't work real well and so my mother, who is a respiratory therapist came to his house each morning to hook him up to some kind of breathing machine.  The machine sounded like Darth Vader trying to run a 10k.  Abe sat in his faded chair, and he told cool old stories about wars and falling through the ice of a lake and 10 cent milk shakes, but only after Darth Vader finished it's race.

Abe loved marmalade. Or maybe he was just a creature of habit because everyday my mom would start a load of laundry and then make Abe a marmalade sandwich.  Abe is the only reason that as an adult, I try to like marmalade.

But the thing I remember most about Abe, was the day I helped my mom carry the laundry down the stairs to the apartment's community washroom.  A sock fell out of the basket, so I picked it up and about a pound of some fine white powder fell out of the sock into a perfect little ant hill.

"Mom, what is this?"

"It's dead skin."

Dead skin!  Wow!  I had no idea an old man could lose so much dead skin from his foot.  Fascinating.

My daughter was 9 when she felt the heaviness of terrible things in our home.  She's 11 now.  I was so scared for her and at a loss of what to do.  Should we tell her?  Should we keep it quiet?  Should I lie to her?  What should I do?  Should I just tell her stories about war and 10 cent milkshakes?  As any parent knows, when heaviness enters our homes our children feel it and suffer from it regardless of whether we tell them or not.

We chose to tell her.

And so, at a time when I was listening to Darth Vader and worried about dead skin socks my daughter was burdened with hard things.  We will all choose what is best for our kids.  Many of us are making impossible decisions and sometimes choosing the less of two evils.  But this is something I have seen in my daughter and I am certain she is not unlike all of your own kids.

She is strong.  She can understand heavy things.  She is incredibly resilient.  She reflects my own attitude. She is loving.  She is forgiving.  She can set boundaries. She has learned valuable life lessons.  She is open. She can listen to her own heart.  She is aware.  She is empathetic and pure.

And contrary to the belief of the world, she isn't broken.