I wasn’t going to write this post. I wasn’t going to write it because it’s about a topic that I’ve found so hard to write about that I’ve avoided writing it all week. In fact, I had to drink a beer in order to bring myself to write this post.
I also wasn’t going to write it because I asked you what you wanted to read on this site, and only a few of you indicated that you wanted to read sweet stories about my husband. I get it. If you are in a bad place, the last thing you want to read is a story about someone in a good place.
But you know what? I’m going to tell the story anyway.
I am because I told this story to a good friend earlier this week and her reaction was, “Aw.” She didn’t say, “Really? With everything going on in my life you have to go and tell me about your husband being sweet.”
No, she rather enjoyed it.
So for those of you who would rather I only write about the times my husband screws up and causes me to plan every detail of his funeral: stop reading.
For everyone else: enjoy, but note that this is a long story with many twists and turns. And before I tell you the story I must let you know one thing about me. It is this: I don’t cry very often. I might have a few stereotypical female traits – such as my shouting “ewww! What’s that?!” whenever I see a bug, worm or small reptile or amphibian – but I am not your usual tear and snot factory. And when I do cry, it’s usually about something touching like my kid’s holiday pageant or the scene in the Justin Bieber movie when he finally gets to Madison Square Garden.
But sad things? I’m basically your regular old rock.
So when, the other day, I happened to drive past an accident right after it all went down, my tears were an aberration. I was not completely sure what had taken place. But I saw people on the ground doing CPR. I saw a baby stroller in the middle of the street. I noticed that none of the cars seemed dented in the least. And everyone standing around looked as if their hearts had fallen out of their bodies. They were ashen.
“Oh my God, I think I am going to cry,” I said, not realizing I was talking out loud. I could feel the surge of emotion rising up from my heart.
“Mommy, what’s wrong?” my kid asked from the back seat.
“Nothing. Don’t look. Nothing. It’s just something really sad. It’s something really, really sad. Oh my God. It’s so sad.”
And the tears came. I pulled into a parking lot. I got out of the car. I wiped the tears from my face. The next thing I knew, my completely dry faced kid was hugging me and saying, “It’s okay, Mommy. Don’t cry. Why are you so sad?”
I didn’t want to upset her, so I stuffed it down as best I could. Eventually I said, “You saw that accident back there? I think a car hit a pedestrian, and I think the pedestrian was either a Mommy or a baby or a very small child.”
Later, I told my husband about it.
“I don’t know why it got to me like that. I saw it and I just thought, ‘That could be me. That could be her. Oh my God that poor person. That poor family.’”
He held me, but this isn’t the sweet part.
The next morning, I asked him. “Is it in the paper?” He told me it wasn’t. “Oh, good, maybe no one was seriously hurt,” I said.
The following day he told me, “I have bad news. It was in the paper today. A mom was walking across the street with her baby and her four year old. She held the 4 year old’s hand all the way across and they got to the other side. But then the 4 year old ran back to get a toy he dropped and was hit by a car. He’s in critical condition.”
“I think I’m going to throw up,” I said.
We did not discuss the matter after that. There was nothing more to say. We just went about our business. But my eyes teared up again, and he saw that and he knows that I don’t often cry at sad things. As I said, I usually only cry at happy things.
The next day he called me at work. He sounded happy.
“I am calling you with great news!”
I was thinking, “What? Do we have more money in our bank account than I realize? What?”
“The little kid who got hit by the car was upgraded to stable!”
“I love you,” I told him.
And just in case it’s not obvious, this is a sweet story because he would not have normally followed the stories about this car accident and about this kid. He hadn’t seen it. He had no reason to stay on top of it. He only made sure to look for the stories because he knew I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to read them, but he also knew that I wanted to know what they said.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.