A couple of weeks after Kyle died I picked Avery and the twins up from school. Avery was five and five year olds still like to hold the hands of adults. When five and a half hits, I have found, it's no longer the thing to do.
So I held her hand and we walked out the door of her wing to go get the boys and the air around Waco was still thick with the sharp blow of loss we had just been dealt. Avery looked up at me, chuckled a little, and said "Everyone probably thinks you're my daddy." I, being the brilliant adult, knew better and told her, "No, I think everyone knows who your dad was."
We picked the boys up then headed out to the playground at which point a lady told me that I had beautiful children.
Today I picked the boys up and took them to Chic-Fil-A to play on the playground. Some of their friends from school just happened to be there. One of the moms, who lives in the same neighborhood as the Lakes, asked me where Jen was. I told her I have the boys on Monday afternoons while Jen spends time with Avery. When the sentence came out of my mouth I realized one of the other mothers there did not know the story and immediately smelled a divorce somewhere in my past. Her little girl, who has obviously never met a stranger, came up and started tickling me. She yelled to Jude, "Hey, come help me tickle your dad!" I told her, "Oh, I'm not their dad, I'm just their friend," which immediately seemed to send waves of terror through the unknowing mother. She said "Oh, you're not?" I said no, that their dad had (and then I lowered my voice to shield the boys from the news that will be a part of their lives forever) "passed away."
Jude immediately sought to translate what I had really meant to this mother. He looked at me in my solemn declaration, then gently, as if to shield me from the news, turned to the lady and said bluntly, "He died."
In our Sunday School class this week we learned about the work of Robert Coles, a true Renaissance man who seeks to cut through all the jargon (code word for bullshit) that grown-ups invent to absorb the blows of reality and to just let people tell their story.
And this is what I want: To tell my story and allow others to tell theirs.