Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BUSY (02/02/17)
- TITLE: Live Like Kings
By Amy Gaudette
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Time was my enemy. Time was elusive. I couldn't control it. I considered vacations with the family forced confinement, doing time, as we made our annual trek to the Caribbean. My body was present, but my mind was a thousand miles ahead. The cell phone which had long been an extension of my arm, was a relic compared to the headset I now wore. It was part of me, and I of it.
I could keep my hands and feet involved with the kids but still connected with my clients. I was addicted to work. It consumed me. I gave more. It wanted more.
Until . . .
It was the last night of our vacation. I was out on the deck on my phone, chatting with a client. As soon as business had been transacted, I turned to go inside. I overheard my two teenagers talking. Each sat side beside, texting on the couch. Scott had his own headset on.
Maddie glanced up from the screen. “Scott? Dad died too, you know, when Mom died.”
“Yeah,” Scott seemed to mumble.
“Do you think we'll grow up to be like him? You know, wrapped up in work, no clue as to what goes on anywhere else?”
“I dunno. Probably. I plan to be smart and rich like him. If that's what it takes to get there, so be it.”
“I miss Mom,” Maddie spoke softly.
Scott only looked at her.
A sledgehammer in the stomach couldn't have hurt more. What would Lauren say if she saw how I was raising them? Or, more accurately, wasn't raising them?
My cell phone's urgent, addicting ring heaped insult on injury. I had to answer. After all, I did run a business. Couldn't afford to be irresponsible.
As we headed home, the kids seemed more remote than ever. Nothing I could say or do seemed to draw them out. We arrived at home, three separate islands. All I wanted to do was bury myself back at work.
I made a rare cry to heaven. Lord, help me. I don't know what to do.
The next week flew by, and my seared conscience was soothed by the daily drug of having more irons than ever in the fire. There were times I'd remember their words, but I'd console myself by thinking I would fix it later, as soon as work slowed up.
But the highway to hell is paved with good intentions.
Sometimes tragedy strikes, and it is too late.
One afternoon, I received a call from the school. Scott was being rushed to the hospital.
He had OD'ed.
Time, my ruthless enemy, took a new approach in its attack – it ceased moving.
I walked to my car in slow motion as the world stopped in its tracks to watch our lives shatter like glass and then be ground into the earth.
How did I get to the hospital in one piece? All the anguish of being deserted when Lauren died, the guilt of being an absentee dad, left me without any resistance. My body ached from being racked by previously unshed tears.
God, forgive me. One more chance . . . just one more chance.
What had I traded in? How could I have thought a life spent in a reckless sprint was any life at all?
I stepped into Scott's room, paralyzed by what I might see. He lay upon the bed, ashen, his hair damp. Maddie sat stoically beside him, holding his hand, and glanced up at me in the doorway, her gaze like that of a deer in headlights.
I drew in a breath. Here, we start over. And I raced to my children as Scott's eyes, swollen and bloodshot, opened. I embraced them both, and in tears we poured out the pain, the forgiveness.
Scott was released three days later. Counseling sessions came and went while I took on a business partner and cut my own hours. We sold the house and downsized. The adjustments were tough, as was the road, but life was good. A life lived simply, as we learned, was rich in compassion and love.
Time, with God's grace, is sufficient for the day.
Besides, if you ask Scott and Maddie now, I think they'd be the first to tell you we live like kings.
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