Last night I held my breath for just a moment. Claudia and I were at a training meeting, several of our children were together home, and one of our sons, Ricardo (13), was in the metro area playing a state tournament soccer game (which, incidentally, his team won with a score of 8-1). Midway through our training session Claudia received a voice mail from our friend Kari telling us about a "Minnesota disaster of catastrophic proportions" (the description of our governor). A portion of interstate 35W spanning the Mississippi River disintegrated in the middle of rush-hour traffic, collapsing into the river some 60 feet below. Early reports were uncertain as to fatalities and injuries, although by this morning there are at least six known dead, numerous injuries, and a few still unaccounted for.
During our meeting break last night Claudia attempted to call the adults Ricardo had ridden with to ascertain their status, only to receive a busy signal. (We later learned that due to the heavy cell phone use created by this tragedy cell phone signals were jammed for hours last night). She also attempted to contact our college-age son Kyle, who lives within ten miles of the collapsed bridge. I had spoken with him earlier in the evening, and he had told me he would be watching a movie (at home with friends was my assumption), so we expected his status to be secure, although we could not speak with him immediately either.
Claudia and I are not by nature the kind of people who immediately jump to the worst case scenario, but when something so unusual happens one is tempted to make premature predictions, to consider a number of situations that could have happened.
By the time our meeting was finished Claudia had a perfunctory message in her voice mail from Ric: "Mom, I'm OK." Just like Ricardo ... no information about the game, whether they had won or not, what the score was, if he had scored or anything else proud parents like to know. But last night safety trumped parental pride. We will grateful simply to know that he and those he was riding with were safe and on their way home.
In the midst of unexplained tragedy or sudden moments of shock and surprise our natural response is to hold our breath for just a moment. This is not, of course, the first time we have done that on our parenting journey, so we are accustomed to the process. But with unexpected situations like these (and so many others parents and especially adoptive parents face) it's a similar process: shock, wonder, facts and (uneasy) resolution. And, it seems, with each episode of resolution we humans settle back into a mode of deeper gratitude and more developed strength to face the next crisis ... whatever it may be.