Monday, April 4, 2011

The rogue wave

I met Howard Davis in August of 1987.

Howard was the CEO of Tracy-Locke, the largest advertising agency South of Chicago.

He hired me.

Howard was Type A+.

He was a big boy. Six four. Big head. Big brain. Big ambition. Big appetite.

I was in his office when he got the phone call that his son had been killed in a car wreck.

I saw him crumble. Physically. Mentally.

I saw it all run out of him in that moment.

I got that phone call in November of 2007 when Pete was killed in Iraq. I was working in San Francisco.

I crumbled. Physically. Mentally.

Two days after we got the news about Pete, Howard called me from Montana.

"Alan, my friend, someone gave me an analogy that I hope will be helpful for you and your family.

You are walking on a beach and you are very near the water.

Right now, the water is washing over you. And it might take you under.

You have to keep walking on the beach.

Step after step. Day after day.

You will always be on that beach.

But step by step, you will get a little further away from the water.

In the next days and weeks, the water will still reach you and threaten to take you back in.

Eventually, if you keep walking, you will be a safe distance from the water.

But, my friend, the rogue wave will roll in and wash over you.

You have to choose.

Let the rogue wave take you, or keep walking."

Today, the rogue wave came and got me.

It was spurred by my silly mistake of going to a movie last night.

It is a really interesting movie. "Source Code".

But, part of the plot is a soldier KIA in Afghanistan.

I knew going in it had something to do with a soldier.

It wasn't until the images of him dying on screen that it hit me.

And today, the nightmares I had shortly after Pete's death came back.

It is spring time. Memories of Pete and friends and family in my back yard are overwhelming.

Memories of Pete fishing in the lake in the back of the house are fresh.

I walked in his steps.

I remember him out there in shorts and mud boots patiently waiting on the bass to take the bait.

I remember the Easter egg hunts.

I can hear his voice. I can hear that sneeze. I can hear that laugh.

Oh, buddy. I miss you today.

I know you are in a better place than me.

But I need to shed some tears today.

It is human. It is normal. It is your daddy missing his boy.

I'll see you one of these days.

I so long to kiss that stubbly cheek and hug that strong neck.

But tomorrow, I'll get up and keep walking, son.

Because that's what we do. That's what you tell me to do.

I'll keep walking.

Thanks, Howard.

Thanks, Pete.

Thank you Lord. Thank you for the trials that make us stronger and more aware of what we have to be thankful for.

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