I was riding in the back of the car watching the rain slash across the windshield, while the wipers cleared the way to drive. My son had stopped at a traffic light. My wife was in the passenger seat. I sat alone in the back of the car, staring straight ahead at my family in the front seat. No one was talking.
The next morning our son would be leaving
I was reminded of my father’s death. More specifically I was reminded of the night of his death. It was raining that night too. The night my father died I drove my mother home from the hospital in the rain. It was quiet in the car. Our lives had changed, and both of us were very tired from the hospital vigil and the intense emotion it had brought us. We had little to say, yet we were bound by time and circumstance to one another in this time of pain. Our ride held meaning beyond any routine car ride. It was the type of moment that can renew our role in one another’s lives, a moment that can burn the sights, sounds and emotions into our memories for a lifetime. We all know the rhythmic sound of the wipers moving from the top of their arc to the bottom. We know the sound of the rain, a sound distinct to us all, even with our eyes closed. These are the images and sounds of everyday life that can suddenly etch our memory, when they occur in a significant moment. The sound of the tires across puddles when you’re in motion, the hypnotic image of red and green traffic lights splotched across the windshields surface, reflected off the droplets of water where the wipers can’t reach. When you couple the sights and the sounds with the emotion, like it existed in the car that night, it becomes impossible to erase the memory. When it is silent in the car, the memories burrow even deeper.
The memory of my father’s passing and the quiet bond between me and my mother came home while we sat at that traffic light in my son's car.
I don’t know why the memory chose that moment.
Maybe the power we call fate throws out random reminders of our mortality.
Perhaps the gods expect us to miss the reminders, like we might overlook the note scribbled on a piece of paper in front of us.
This note from fate, or circumstance, or whatever it is that places our minds and hearts and our bodies in a common experience, I didn’t miss. I caught it solidly.
I understood many things in that quiet moment in my son’s car.
I understood my mortality.
I understood the bond between my son and his mother.
I comprehended their allegiance to me.
I understood I was being given a glimpse into the future.
A time when I will not be in the car, yet they will.
I saw a time when the son will comfort the mother, once again.
I understood and caught the moment as though I were already gone.
I understood my place in the world in a more defined way.
I understood it in its past tense and its present tense.
Now, in this moment, I was offered a chance to know it in its future tense.
And I saw it would be alright.
Fate and circumstance will turn in their infinite revolutions.
And it will be alright.