Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Thank You to My Heroes

When I was a young adult, I had a group of friends from work that I did everything with.  We called ourselves "The Midnight Riders", not all that original but at 18 you think you are a whole lot more original than you actually are.  We never got into trouble but we spent late nights watching movies, eating take-out Chinese food and talking or riding around in Mike's pickup truck, listening to Shania Twain and talking or laying in the snow, looking at the stars and talking ( it would seem we had a lot to say ;).  Of this group of friends, my best friend was Mike.  He and I fought like a brother and sister and stood by each other the same way.  One night (two days before Christmas 1995 to be exact), while I was working at the mall, there was a shooting spree.  Two groups of hotheads started fighting and then began shooting, sending five thousand Christmas shoppers into a panic. One person died and several more were injured.  I was working my way through college at the time and one of my jobs was as a manager at Chick-Fila.  There I was, 18 years old, responsible to keep safe these other kids that worked under me.  I brought down the gate and shoved them all in the back away from danger.  I stood there, praying that nothing bad would happen to any of them.  About an hour or so later there was a loud banging on the back door.  Panicked, I looked through the peep hole and saw my Dad standing on the other side of the door.  To this day I am not sure how he got in, the whole mall was locked down.  I just remember feeling relieved that I was no longer the only person responsible for these kids.  My Dad, my super hero.
After we were given the all clear, Mike came running in the back door.  He had rushed over as soon as he had heard what had happened and eventually found a way to get in the building  to check on me (probably wasn't the brightest move but we were 18, what can I say).  The next day, Christmas Eve, Mike showed up at the store at 6 am to help me clean up the mess we had been forced to leave the night before.   Mike, my true and faithful friend.
Honestly, I have not spent much time thinking about that night all those years ago.  It is one of the those things I just don't dwell on that much. However, this past week has brought it back into sharp focus.  Surprisingly, it isn't the terror or panic I find myself thinking on.  Instead, I find my thoughts coming back to my Dad and my friend. It seems that time does indeed bring healing and perspective.
This night in my life, in no way compares to the horrors of the past week.   I don't begin to pretend to understand what so many families in our country are going through right now.  In all honesty, I can't even talk about it yet.  At my doctors appointment yesterday, a nurse began speaking of the tragedy as she took my vitals.  I abruptly changed the topic. I hope I did not offend her; I simply cannot go there.  I am silently sitting a kind of shiva, grieving for so many that I have never met.
This post is my chance to honor two men who were heroes to me on a night I needed heroes.   So from the bottom of my heart I say, thank you to my dad and to Mike.

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