Photo taken by Yolanda Ringgold
As soon as he walked through the front door he knew what he had to do. Even though the sky was beginning to turn gray, he was taking his family to the playground. To play. To laugh. To live. To love.
Scenes like the one shown above are not uncommon, and they take place everyday all across the country. But on this particular day. And in this particular city. It was uncommon.
See, in the 48 hours that preceded this beautiful moment, two young African-American men had been shot and killed in the city in which this photo was taken. The city mourns for their loss and so does the father shown above.
But this father also knew that he has two young girls to raise. And he and their mother were going to take them to the park and play. Yes, his vigilance was heightened due to recent events. Yes, they were the only ones there. Yes, he was a little more aware of his surroundings than usual.
His daughters weren’t. It’s not that they weren’t aware of the world around them. They were. They are. In fact, they are more connected to the world around them than most kids twice their age. It’s just that they are at that wonderful age in which they can simply focus on beauty and happiness and laughter and Mommy and Daddy. An age that we all wish we could return to.
And for two magical hours their Daddy did. Take another look at the photo above. At the time it was taken do you think he was thinking about anything other than being with his daughters? I don’t. In fact, my guess is that he wasn’t thinking about anything at all.
Not the impending storm. Not the neighborhood crime watch sign in the background. Not even the recent murders nearby. It’s not that they didn’t matter to him. They did. Very much.
But what mattered most to him was spending precious time with his little girls. They are beautiful. They are funny. And they love life. Why wouldn’t they?
They didn’t worry about the world around them.
That was for him to worry about. But later. Not now. Now was the time for him to slide down a sliding board that was too short. Hop on a see-saw that was too small. And laugh like he didn’t have a care in the world. Because at that moment he didn’t.
If only he and their mother could freeze this moment in time. Keep their girls right where they were. So that they never outgrow the playground above. Then again, do we outgrow playgrounds or do we simply forget that they exist? Clearly the father above wasn’t who the architects had in mind when they designed the equipment.
And yet he fit!
And yet he fit!
Yesterday, when Devon told me his story and showed me his photo we both knew right away that it had to be told. I was truly honored that he trusted me enough to tell it. We also both agreed that Until The Storm Came would make a great title. It provided perfect closure to a perfect evening.
But as I sit here trying to find just the right words to close this story, I can’t help but think that this story deserves more than just closure. Because while the original title did in fact capture what was visible, I don’t think it captures what was unseen. I don’t think it captures what was most important.
And that is this…
On a hot summer evening,
under a cloudy sky,
in a city that had just experienced much loss,
in a city that is trying to decide what to do next,
in a city that is still in mourning.
A father decided to take his children to the playground.
They ran and jumped and slid and laughed and giggled.
And then the storm came.
And they stopped.
So while the weather outside may have forced them to find shelter,
I believe that together,
this family of four,
found a way to,
make it Through The Storm.
And as long as they continue to laugh and love and live together,
I believe they always will.