24 February 2010

In Light and In Darkness

Here are my two memories of driving up Flatbush Avenue at around 4 am.

1. After our daughter Minna was born, I stayed late at the hospital and in a state of slow-motion reverie, drove home, on Shabbat, to the unrestrained pride of being a father of a daughter for the third time.

2. A bit tipsy, in the back of cab, on the way home from a show in Hoboken (Mekons, at Maxwells, New Year's Eve, 1994) where the cab started to move too quickly until we, his passengers, said, "Slow down. There's no rush. We all want to be safe." And miraculously, he listened to us.

As a father of daughters that we allow to cross Flatbush Avenue on certain occasions, I have to admit to my heart being crushed, beaten and torn to shreds over the brain death of Erinn Phelan, killed in a hit and run on Sunday morning. I feel like I met Erinn--I keeping trying to remember--at some city event in the past year where she may have been working, on behalf of the Mayor and her dedication to community service. Hearing the news as someone who lives at one of the corners of Flatbush Avenue whose daughters cross that street, I looked at Erinn's Facebook page, trying to fathom the instantaneous end to a life of promise and service.

To the question, "Can you imagine bringing a child into the world to serve the common good?" I answer: "Yes."

To the question, "Can you imagine her losing her life, senselessly, by someone's need to drive from one point on the globe to another in so much haste that another life is lost?" I answer, "No."

Like I said, my heart is crushed, beaten and torn to shreds. My daughters cross this street--not yet at 4.30 in morning, but soon enough.

I walked Nathan the Dog at midnight tonight and crossing Flatbush, I was haunted by death. And as I brought the car around so I could drive one of my kids to school early in the morning, I was haunted to death. Crossing Flatbush Avenue at a few minutes past midnight, a young musician crossed Park Place against the light, in the dark, hidden by his dark clothing, I was haunted by death. But so haunted, I was vigilant. And so was waiting, and watching, for life. My car slowed, I let him pass, I didn't use my horn because he was a musician, with a guitar, crossing Park Place, at a few minutes past midnight. And wherever I was going could surely wait the split second it took for me to have the patience to let a man with a guitar cross a street.

Oh Erinn Phelan and your dreams for a better city!
For the sunrise of your aspirations that your home
would be made better by your devotion!
May your dreams be realized by us,
mourning and honoring you,
and remaining ever-vigilant
for all the daughters and sons who cross streets
in light and in darkness.
Peace, Erinn Phelan, peace.

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