Extra Hugs

There’s a guy named Gary who works for the FAA in D.C., but comes to Oklahoma on occasion for business. He works in security, but you wouldn’t know it from his physical appearance. He’s short, kind of pudgy, and has a round face. He always looks happy and he’s known for talking about just about anything to just about anyone who will listen. Nice guy.

Gary’s in town this week and so yesterday he comes down to talk to me and Johnny for a while. Conversation eventually gets around to all our kids. He can’t believe Morgan turned one today. He said it seemed like just yesterday when Mason was born. Gary whips out his Palm Pilot and flips through electronic pictures of his boys. “My oldest son’s taller than me now,” he said.”I’m 5’7″ — who doesn’t want their son to be taller than that?” We all laughed. Johnny mentioned that his oldest daughter is starting to learn to drive and Gary talked about how his son had just turned 16 but still had his permit and was going to be getting his license soon. Every time he mentioned his kids, he had a twinkle in his eye that reminded me of the pride I feel when I talk about my kids to other people.

Gary got a phone call today informing him that his 16-year-old son died this morning. I didn’t hear all the details, but apparently his son caught some sort of infection and just got really sick and died. Gary got the first flight out of OKC, headed back to D.C. Someone went to sit with him; someone else went to return his rental car and check out his hotel room.

Today’s Morgan’s birthday. Gary and his family were on my mind all day today. How helpless he must’ve felt being that far away from home.

I’m pretty sure everyone who heard the news today hugged their kids extra tight tonight. I know I did.

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