As I wind through the streets of our quiet, suburban neighborhood, the sounds of a video game streamer coming from my oldest son’s phone and Peppa the Pig from my youngest’s, my wife and I are complaining about the upcoming Daylight Savings change. Mostly I’m whining about the disruption to the boys sleeping schedule, the difficulty in getting them to bed an hour earlier. Our complaints are interrupted by flashing blue and red lights less than a block from our house. As we pull closer, we can see the entire block is closed off with yellow police tape.
Just two houses down from ours, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the chest and killed.
It wasn’t long ago he was likely watching streamers on youtube, playing Minecraft, chasing his friends on the playground and doing the things little boys do. Maybe, like me, his mom told him multiple times to pick up his shoes from the floor, struggled to get him to eat healthy and scolded him for his cluttered bedroom. She hugged him, teased him, laughed with him and cried with him. Today she cries beside him.
It is so easy to fall into the routine, to forget how truly special and fragile life is. To complain about the little things and miss the big picture. I’ve thought about that boy a lot since then. I didn’t know him. I don’t know his family, but still, I imagine him at my son’s age. Too few years ago he was full of innocence.
So in the coming weeks, I hope my children forgive me if I hold them a bit closer. If I hug them just a little longer every time I remember the mom just a few houses down who can no longer embrace her son.
This weekend, I lost an hour. She lost a lifetime.