Alabama—there is a chill outside this morning. It’s cold. Even my bones are cold.
I’m in a hotel elevator with two big, black men. Very big. I’m talking six-nine, maybe. They must be four-feet wide, wearing size-fifteen boots. They’re carrying luggage.
It’s not every day you ride the elevator with two NFL defensive-tackle lookalikes.
I ask if they’re famous.
They aren’t famous. But, they ARE biological brothers who had never met one another until a few months ago.
“I’m from Cali,” says one man.
“I’m from Birmingham,” says the other.
Their mother gave them up for adoption thirty-eight years ago. They found each other on the internet. Then, they tracked down their birth parents.
Their biological mother lives in Atlanta. Their father is deceased. They visited his grave yesterday.
“It was emotional, man,” one brother says. “You don’t think a dude you never met will mean that much to you, but… He was my dad.”
“Yeah,” the other adds.
Today, they’re going on an old-fashioned road trip together. They’re heading to Georgia to meet their birth mother before Christmas. She has no idea they’re coming.
One brother says, “I’m ready to facilitate healing to my family.”
I ask if he’d be gracious enough to spell “facilitate” for me.
We say goodbye, they waltz through the lobby. Every eye is on them because they are giants.
In the breakfast room of the hotel: a family. The back of the mother’s T-shirt reads: “Autism is not a disease.”
They are eating. The oldest boy screams at his younger brother. He is pitching a fit, making a scene. Hands flail.
The room gets tense.
She snaps into action.
She says, “Oh my! Would you look at this? It’s past nine, and you haven’t fed your toy frog.”
The kid furrows his brow.
“I did too,” he says. “Fed him this morning.”
“Interesting,” she goes on. “Then WHY did he JUST say he’s hungry?”
The boy takes the toy and observes it closely. He sniffs it. “That’s strange, he never talks to me.”
And just like that, all is calm.
Outside in the parking lot: four men dressed in jeans and boots. They’re standing in a semi-circle, heads bowed, cigarettes in hands.
I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I overhear whispered words:
“Lord,” says one. “Guide the surgeon’s hands…”
And even though I don’t know who they’re talking about, I imagine it has something to do with the man who holds his face in his hands.
I walk past them. I crawl into my cold truck and I’m thinking about people I’ve never met.
I can see my breath. My windshield is frosted over. And you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about strangers.
Well, I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because I’m nosy. Maybe because I have nothing better to do while my truck defrosts. Maybe because I’m a frustrated, wanna-be columnist who never got his big shot.
Either way, I want you to know that I’m grateful. Grateful to be here.
I don’t mean “here” in this hotel parking lot. I don’t mean “here” in Alabama. I mean HERE. With you. Right now.
Life is short. Too short. It’s people that make it precious to me. And that means you.
Guide that surgeon’s hand, Lord.