Invincible

I believe my child is invincible. There is someone up there watching over him.

Sitting in the chair next to his hospital bed, I can only think of Tommy.

As a parent, seeing your child like this, the person you’ve raised, cared for, loved like no other can love, the you that you wish you could be, it’s just about the worst thing you can wish on a person.

It’s that feeling you get when he takes a hard fall off his bike. It’s the splitting wind that escapes as your stomach plummets while he lies on the football field after a tackle. It’s God’s fist clenched around your windpipe until he walks out of the doctor’s office with nothing more than stitches.

The police called me at 7 a.m. We were at the scene at 7:09 a.m.

The sirens spun silently in the parking lot outside the bank where Tommy worked. Three officers stood in front of the caution tape. Behind them, the glow of the ambulance’s interior spilled onto the pavement like a milky rain, the light glistening solemnly as it struck the mist. Nearby, the morning dew had collected itself on the windshield of Tommy’s Mustang.

I was there when he bought it.

“Mr. Chabberty,” Tommy spoke plainly at the dealership. I think his mother taught him that. “Now, I can see you’ve had this vehicle on this lot for more than a month now, and I’m not gonna be swindled into thinking that $3,950 is the best you can do.”

“Tommy. You don’t understand -” Chabberty began. I listened from the hood of my truck.

“Look Mr. Chabberty, I know Hillfield Motors has this same car down the street and to the left, and I know he’d love to sell it to the quarterback of our team with a big, fat spoiler on it that says Hillfield Motors.”

“Well -”

“But I’m not at Hillfield Motors am I? No. I want to do business with you. So let’s make a friend Chabberty. Tell me $3,950 is the best you can do.”

His mother taught him this.

“Well, when you put it like that. How about we call it at $3,900 and I give you a Chabberty Dealership spoiler on the house?”

“Mr. Chabberty -”

Tommy holds out just a little longer. I like to think I taught him that.

“You’ve got yourself a deal.” Tommy smiled brightly — the same bright smile that you saw even when he was missing five of his baby teeth. “I knew I could make a friend outta you. I can’t wait to tell my friends what a good guy you are.”

My wife was through the tape first. I stopped to talk to the police officer at the scene. I don’t remember what he said. I just couldn’t bring myself to see it.

My child was invincible.

The news tribune called my son a hero. Tommy had thrown himself over the counter at the gunman and saved ten people in the lobby of the bank that morning.

6:58 a.m. That’s the official time of Tommy’s death.

I’m sitting in the chair next to my son’s hospital bed when the doctor tells my wife that the car crash would have been worse if he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Miles holds on for a little longer. His older brother taught him that.

I believe my child is invincible. There is someone up there watching over him.

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