Driving home after the hysterical debacle last night that left the kids crying and scared, Gary and I had a hard time finding words to voice what was in our heads, in our hearts. It was so insane, irrational, senseless. We were worried about the kids and could still hear their cries and see their terrified, confused faces.
In the darkness of the car, Gary suddenly turned to me and asked, “Did you notice we ended up standing beside each other?”
I honestly hadn’t noticed, but now that he mentioned it, I realized he was right. As the shouting and the threats escalated, he and I gravitated toward each other and toward the kids. We ended up standing with our arms around the kids, doing our best to comfort them, and eventually my back was turned to the two shriekers, because my priority was not their meaningless insults, their self-serving tirades, or their hypocritical accusations.
My priority was the crying child in front of me who didn’t understand, who was scared, who didn’t want us to go because he was afraid he would never see us again. My priority was a 6-year-old girl grasping her daddy’s neck as her mother tried to yank her right out of Gary’s arms. My priority was an 11-year-old boy who stood, crying silently, looking stunned, until he reached Gary’s side. My priority was a 3-year-old who had been so excited to show her mother her trimmed hair and her painted nails, yet instead she stood in the middle of a three-ring circus watching people she cared about screaming and being screamed at. My priority was a father hell-bent on being the better person and whispering to the kids “Everything’s okay” even as he was still being shouted at and spit on.
My priority was, in short, my family.
Last night, Gary and I snuggled closer, held each other tighter, and needed to be nearer to each other than we have in a long time. In a way it brought us closer together, and all day at work today I missed him and just wanted to be with him.