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Gone in a Flash

Story ID:5360
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2009
Person:Life Lessons
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The sun dropped below the horizon. The sky turned dark. The first stars of the
night began to shine. It was the peak night for
the Perseids meteor shower. We gathered
our grandchildren in the back yard. Some sat in
chairs and others stretched out on
blankets. No street lights were nearby to hinder
our view.

“There’s one!” Seth, the oldest yelled.

“I missed it!” I whined.

“There’s another one!” Josh yelled.

“I saw it!” Ginny and I said together as a streak of dust burned across the sky and
faded into nothing.

The youngest, Benny, sat in a chair beside me. “Are you watching, Ben?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Did you see that last one?”

“No!” He sighed. “I missed it.”

“Then you weren’t watching, were you?”

We cheered and pointed each time a meteor lit the night sky.

“Poppa Mike?” Benny asked.

“Yes, Ben?”

“Clara is the loneliest train, you know?”

I had no idea what Benny was talking about or where the thought came from, so I
just played along. “Is that so?” I asked.

“Uh huh?”

“Why is she lonely? Is she ugly?”

“Well, no!” He paused. “She has a boyfriend you know.”

“But she’s still lonely?”

“Yeah.”

Another meteor made a white slash in the night sky. “Wow! Did you see it, Ben?”

“No, I missed it again.”

“Ben, you have to pay attention.”

A few weeks later, a lightning storm slowly crawled across the western sky. We
watched the bolts of lightning streak diagonally
from north-to-south, It was a spectacular
display of nature, one we safely watched from a
distance.

“Wow! Did you see that one boys?” I asked my grandsons.

“No! We missed it again.”

“Guys, you have to focus, these things
happen fast. If you don’t focus, you’ll miss
them.”

Later that night, after the boys went to bed, I sat out on the deck while Ginny, her
daughter, Heather, and her son-in-law, Nathan,
watched a show on TV. They laughed
each time I screamed, “WOW! That was a good one.”

Alone with my thoughts and the lightning, I remembered the meteor shower. The
lightning was the same. The flashes of light were gone in the blink of an eye. I asked
myself, “Mike, how many of life’s meteors and lightning bolts have you missed because
you weren’t paying attention?”

I had no answer to the question, for if I knew, then I wouldn’t have missed
them. How many times have I come home from work too wrapped in my own thoughts
and missed those “daddy’s home” smiles of my
children? Those little smiles are lost
forever, as I walked right by them. How many
opportunities did I miss to praise my wife
or my children? How many chances to say, “I love
you” to my wife did I miss?

I made a pledge that night to pay more attention to those around me. When I
arrive home from work, work stays at work and my attention is on my family, because
those opportunities – those flashes of light – don’t last long. They are gone in a flash.

Michael T. Smith