A Big Nothing

Photo by Tim Meyer on Unsplash

Something happened last night.

My little boy, the one who takes medicine to ensure that cancer has a past tense in his life, woke up shaken and afraid.

His imagination, flavored by the chemical imbalance brought on by combining poison and months and months of treatment to keep death at bay, translated an innocent little jewelry box in the playroom into some sort of pink nightmare beast.

…with pretty little jewels on the side…

His mama rocked him.

I held his hand to lead him up to the pink jewel beast to discover it was only made from composite wood-like substance, plastic, and paint.

I let him handle a variety of swords and machetes in the house to see that we are armed and ready to defend ourselves. I didn’t confuse the matter by displaying a firearm, which would have led his mother to more than a few nightmares.

And he slept.

And something happened.

It was a unique thing to attempt to describe.

It was a significant nothing.

Have you ever been so sick that you tried to remember what normal felt like, only to loathe who you are just a little and how ungrateful you can be when your health is good and nothing aches, nothing grinds, nothing cracks, and you can breathe through both nostrils perfectly?

try that now… it’s miraculous when you remember sinus infections…

A significant nothing happened last night and for some reason I can’t help but be attentive to the fact that the nothing that happened to us was not accidental.

While driving out of my neighborhood this morning, I saw a patrol car and thought to myself that its occupant had spent the entire evening, from dark until sunrise prepared for any number of somethings.

He was prepared for people to drive too fast… too drunk… too facebook distracted…

He was prepared to approach a vehicle occupied by an unknown attitude toward law enforcement, either conceiving of them as heroes or as the much vaunted villains of some activists’ imaginations. He had to be ready to defend himself physically, and also (and more likely) philosophically, regarding why this person was pulled over. He knew he was recorded via his dashcam, possibly a body cam, and more and more likely by a handheld device in the car in front of him.

Her heart was steeled against the possibility that she would have to arrive on the scene of an accident that enacts upon the human form contortions and offenses that should never be done. She knew she would have to display the standard for reaction, which is detachment and keenly observational, to preserve the order and protection of the people involved in the moment.


For many of these people last night, nothing happened, quite by good fortune.

For me, nothing happened thanks to their selfless sacrifice, professional dedication, and latent heroism.

That nothing is a huge something, amounts to everything in some cases.

And that nothing makes all the difference in the many somethings we wake able to pursue today.

All that to say, if you are in law enforcement and spend your days and your nights hoping that nothing happens, but ensuring that if something happens it is contained to just you to keep the nothing possible for the rest of us, thank you.

We see you.

And we tap our break pedals in salute to the power you have to keep tragedy at bay.

2 thoughts on “A Big Nothing

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