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  • There are some things you can't make sense of. Just can't. "How can this moment be so beautiful? While other things are so terrible, so beyond awful? Coexisting in a parallel reality..."

    I was thinking this as I flew across the sky headed home to Chicago. I looked out the window and shot this rather stunning photo of the sunset, reflected on one wing.

    "There's damage, and you take it with you. Wherever you go" I thought, for no real reason at all.

    My brain works like that - words spring forth seeming to have no relation to anything in the moment and then suddenly fill in with context, hours or days later. The pieces all fall into place, like a puzzle. This was a rather dramatic case in point.

    After a perfectly enjoyable trip home - business mixed with pleasure, and unseasonably glorious weather in the midwest - I arrived home on Sunday night and got a phonecall. A knockout punch. We received word that a dear friend of ours was arrested for child molestation, a few days prior. It had been all over the local news.

    "Whaaaaaaaaaaatttttt?" My voice was trembling as my brain tried to make sense of this. Reeling backward I thought of the countless hours we've all spent together. He and my husband and another friend were quite literally the three musketeers when we lived in another city long ago. Concert going, old house fixing, pizza making, bread baking young dads sharing laughs and family vacations. Our kids grew up together. I loved this guy as a brother, and I suddenly recalled my last texts to him about hockey - a passion we both shared, having grown up in the northern cities.

    "Your Flyers suck."

    "Listen - I'm not even going there. You know you're just jealous because....."

    That was sometime ago I now realize. About three years, probably. I hadn't seen him in more like four. Maybe longer? What had happened in the interim? Could we have done anything about it to land us all in a different place now?

    My husband is beyond himself, finding it all impossible to comprehend. He himself had grown up in English boarding schools where inappropriate behavior with young boys was so common it was regarded as comical.

    "Ah that janitor! Remember? He used to bring candies to Simon, buying him off to stay quiet..." for reasons I've never understood the British all nervously laugh when these stories are told, even though there is nothing funny about them. It lightens the depravity I guess. The laughter stems from the relief that they are glad it didn't happen to them. A near miss, like an accident on the side of the road. As you drive by you think "shit. Glad it wasn't me. A near miss!" You lament briefly and sincerely, for about two minutes. Hoping the victims are alright but not really worrying about it in the slightest.

    It's gone out of your head by the time you arrive home, safe and sound.

    "Accident? What accident? Oh yes, that..." a distant memory, already.

    My husband's first instinct is of course to defend his friend. He's locked into believing there has been some huge mistake.

    "I need to get in touch with him...."

    Of course that's not possible. He's locked up somewhere with an unpayable bond. They are waiting to see if others come forward. I can't imagine they will. I hope not.

    "We need to be there for the family" I explain. "His wife. Their kids... I'm sorry. But your allegiance cannot be to him. Not now. Not till we know he's innocent..." There are certain accusations in life where you cannot really wait until the verdict is in. They are so horrific, so counter to the laws of humanity, that you assume guilt until proven innocent. It somehow feels safer that way.

    My voice trailed off, picturing our old friend in a jail cell. I often like to joke that I am psychic, and last night I was trying to psychically connect with X, channeling to him "so what the fuck happened? Please tell me and let's fix it. What can I do to fix this so that you can get back to your family. Get back to us? "

    Wilco was playing on my Ipod which has always reminded me of him. "C'mon Jeff Tweedy" I pleaded, "work some sort of magic for us all here. We want our old friend back. The one we thought we knew..."

    "One wing - will never ever fly, dear. Neither yours nor mine I fear - we can only say goodbye" was Wilco's answer. Not exactly the divine intervention message I was hoping for on shuffle, damnit.

    Nervously, I've explained to each of our boys what has happened, asking if anything inappropriate had ever happened with Uncle X." They assured me it had not. I've connected with his wife, my work friend before any of our menfolk had ever even met. Before they became brothers.

    "It's like we are sitting shiva" she told me. They are holed up away from home, protected by family and away from the media, the neighborhood, the friends and colleagues. I cannot imagine what this feels like for them. I saw the news clip and felt ill - the Christmas lights still hung up on the porch. The bird's eye view through the front door into the living room. A sick sort of spying that the mass media loves to share.

    "There is such grief. Inappropriate humor" she told me. "While this is of course the worst thing that could've happened I feel so unmistakably, totally loved and embraced by friends and family..." she told me.

    I think I know what she means.

    I can't sleep. I keep thinking maybe I should just jump on a plane? To do what exactly I am not sure. Maybe just sit with her? Would that help? I wonder.

    This is all beyond the pale, for all of us.

    "There must be some mistake" both of my boys told me independently of one another. "That just can't be true."

    I am hopeful that they are right - that this is all a big mistake. That somehow there are two wings on this plane, not just one. Wings that can fly us all far, far away from all of this. Back to the way we all were. Innocent.

    Somehow.
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