There is a storm coming but for now the driving conditions are nearly perfect. I just dropped off the kids, the radio is playing and my mind is wandering, thinking about our decision to enroll the Keaton in Catholic schools next year. As I come up on the intersection I see the cars; one at the stop-sign, waiting patiently to cross and continue his journey east, another at a standstill in the middle, his blinker is flashing and I know as soon as I pass he, too, will head east. As I get closer I can tell the SUV is brown and I can see lights on the roof of his car; as I pass I see the writing on the side and confirm that it is a county deputy.
A county deputy.
Becky told me she saw the deputy come pealing down the road that night. She was up, nursing a 3-mo old V. and by his speed alone she knew something was wrong.
"911 what's your emergency?"
"Our house is on fire."
The deputy was there within minutes and it was his arrival that prevented Collin from going back in.
"What's your wife's name? What's your birthday? Do you have kids? What are their names?"
He badgered him with questions; I assume this was for two reasons: make sure he was coherent/not in a state of shock; and keep him busy/stop him from doing something stupid.
I am several miles down the road before I realize I am audibly crying; sucking in big gulps of air just trying to catch my breath.
As I drive past the garbage man, pulled over on the side of the road and picking up a recycling bin, I wonder if he can see the tears rolling down my face.
It's 37 degrees and the sun is shining. The big boys and I wait patiently for the littlest to wake so we can don the snow pants and hats and mittens and head outside. I tell them before we play, we have to take a walk - a practice for the many we hope to take again come spring/summer.
Nolan drags the sled the whole way down the road and we drop off some oils and books at Becky's. We chat for a second before she piles her two youngest into the car and we stomp through their yard to get back to our street. The beef jerky she gave us is welcome by all and each of the boys finds a place on the sled with a stick in hand.
It's not easy pulling all three, my legs can feel it, but it doesn't hurt so much as it feels good to use these muscles again.
I'm leaning at an angle as I pull and their legs dangle, bumping along the snow covered pavement when suddenly it is no longer winter but summer.
Summer of 2010.
I have an 18-month old and an infant and every morning we pack into the stroller and walk to the cows. Baby Hutton mostly sleeps but once in a while he screams and cries and I pull him out to carry him while pushing the stroller with one hand. The sun peeks over the trees and is shining bright as we pull back in the drive and head home for lunch. I could spend all of the days of my life just like this. Everything is right in the world.
As I pull the sled up over the embankment I look up and before me is our house. Our home.
The boys have run off, racing up the driveway to the shovels. My heart sinks a bit as I'm brought back to reality. We had so many plans. So many dreams. Three and a half years later....what happened?