My father stopped over and happened to catch Junior pushing one of Chuck's video game magazines under the kitchen table. When my father asked him why, he told him that the cover was too scary. The magazine needed to be placed far, far away from everything.
Junior was right. The cover had a monster with fangs, talons and blood-red eyes.
My father asked Junior to sit down with him and explain what was so scary, but Junior wouldn't even look at the magazine cover. So he told Junior to get some paper and markers, which he did. He bet Junior that he could draw something even scarier, which he professed to have accomplished—although the images were ridiculous and, of course, elicited many laughs from Junior.
He told Junior to draw something even scarier than that. This is Junior's monster eating machine:
My father and Junior did this for some time.
As I watched them on the couch, I suddenly remembered being a child. I remembered how my father's factual approach to things I'd found scary and unknown had made them feel tangible. Manageable, even.
I thought about how lucky Junior was to get to experience that for himself. It made me appreciate all the ways we as parents may not understand the profound impact we have on our children's outlook, and of course, how they confront what they are most afraid of.
It also made me think about God.
See, at the moment my father and Junior were drawing pictures, I was thinking about the doctor's appointment from which I'd just come. I'd found out that I would need an MRI to rule out a cancer diagnosis in my brain. The doctor didn't know what was wrong on my x-ray from the previous week, which he'd done because of recurring headaches. There was a good chance it wasn't cancer, but once you hear a doctor mention that word as a possibility, it's all you can think about.
You think of it as you sing your five-year-old "Happy Birthday." As you kiss your children good-night. As you do the dinner dishes. I won't list every activity during which you think about possibly having cancer; suffice it to say, it's all consuming if you don't beat it back with a stick.
I've learned that I do not have cancer.
I can't help but think that I've been given two gifts in the course of seven days: one, of course, the healthy prognosis. But that's not where God comes in. He comes in when I think about the second gift, the scene between my father and Junior. Because while I was watching them, I could almost hear someone whispering, "See, look, this is how you're going to handle this. You're going to grab yourself some markers and..."