November 29, 2011

Sean's Gone

There was no good way to say it when it happened.
There is no good way to say it now.
But this is how Sean Taylor's death struck me then,  
so I will continue to make this silent tribute
for as long as the feelings remain.
(Reprinted from November 28, 2007)

It’s not a long drive to my son’s high school, maybe 15 minutes.

Most mornings, we share sleepy wise cracks—which of us looks worse; whose day projects out the bigger pain; the lameness of a certain radio commercial.

Sometimes we talk daily routine—remembering to turn in an order form; calling if he needs to be picked up; the logistics of an upcoming outing with friends.

Sometimes we talk a little sports. Redskins, mostly.

Once in a while, as events dictate, we talk real life—there will be other girls; they just discovered an Earth-like planet 20 light-years away; it’s junior year partner, these grades count.

Tuesday morning, we rode in silence.

He’d had a strange look on his face as he came down the hall from the living room, where the morning news was playing, when we readied to leave the house. His voice had a flatness to it when he spoke.

“Sean’s gone.”

I wasn’t fully awake—I didn’t understand. Then I saw the look in his eyes, the awful news story I had fallen asleep thinking about came flooding back, and I understood only too well. I don’t remember now if it was raining as we headed out into the dark, but it always will be in my memory.

As we were pulling out into the road a minute later, a voice on the car radio confirmed the reality.

“Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died this morning from a gunshot wound suffered in his home …”

We drove in silence, staring straight ahead.

I don’t really know if the time it took to get to the school took forever, or if it flashed by in an instant. Time has a strange quality to it in times of stress. What I do recall is the unsettling jumble of disjointed thoughts, feelings and impressions...