An ordinary day

I received this letter from Jan Williams. As you may remember Williams lost her son and grandsons last summer. Neal, Ian and Devon Williams were all killed. Neal’s wife and the boys’ mother Manling Williams was arrested on suspicion of murder and could face teh death penalty. A preliminary hearing in the case, scheduled for last Wednesday was postponed until Sept. 11.

Letter on the jump

The boys have been on my mind almost constantly lately…probably because the one year anniversary of their deaths is fast approaching. My daughter and I were out running some errands for my mother, who was feeling the heat a bit.  We had picked up the requested items, and I was sitting at an outside table waiting while she ordered herself something to eat.  I have always enjoyed people watching, so I just sat in the shade outside a bakery and watched the families running all their own errands.

Suddenly I became teary eyed.  Everything was so ordinary.  It was just like any other day, with people trying to get everything done, and keep track of their children at the same time.  I think that’s why it was so hard.  It could have been any ordinary Saturday with Neal and the boys. Neal or Auntie would have to try to keep Ian from falling into the fountain  or running into passersby.  I could see myself reading and explaining every single item on display in the bakery to Devon, knowing full well he would end up ordering the same thing he always ordered. When we sat down to lunch, Ian would try to talk everyone into giving him any fruit on their plates, and would help himself to the avocado on my sandwich.  For Devon it would be croutons – he always wanted the croutons out of my salad.  Every five minutes he would pop up out of his seat, and I would have to tell him to sit down.  One of the boys would have to go to the bathroom, and then naturally the other would discover that he needed to go, too, and Neal would sigh and they would all troop into the restroom.  When the drinks arrived, Neal would blow the wrapper off his straw and it would fly across the table at me or his sister.  I would tell him he was setting a bad example, and throw my empty sweetner packet at him.  Devon would start telling all the same first grade jokes that every first grade boy tells, and Neal would have to keep grabbing for Ian as he tried to slip under the table.  So ordinary, and yet so precious.

It made me think of the final scene in the play “Our Town” when Emily, who had died, tries to go back and relive just one ordinary day.  It ends up being too painful and she can’t stand it.  She says that live people just don’t understand.  Every second is so precious, and we let them all slip through our fingers without a second thought.  What I wouldn’t give for one of those plain ordinary days.  If I close my eyes, I can almost feel sticky little fingers clasping my hand, and hear merry inconsequentlial chatter as I walk through a hot parking lot to the car. If only.  If only.

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  • PJ Weaver

    I find this to be an incredible gesture on Jan’s part, sharing these sweet memories and observations with the general public – what an awesome reminder – to stop whining about inconsequential nonsense and focus on the people we hold near to our hearts.