Embracing ... IT

The cow’s inflated lungs are humungous - I am four.  The brain surgery film makes me a little squeamish - I am in fifth grade.   My dad is a professor of biological structure at the U of W and teaches medical students.  He doesn’t switch off his professor-ish-ness when he comes home.  He dissects the chicken when we are around the dinner table so we can learn about anatomy.  I grow up with a fairly clinical understanding of life and death.

Fast forward to life as a lawyer.  At first I work for the defense.  I am taught never to show emotion.  Never. Ever.  Ever.    I am pretty good at that and thank my Chinese grandfather Gong Gong.  He had a face like a boulder.

Things change when I become a plaintiff attorney.  I am dealing with clients  who are people not insurance companies.

The first time IT happens, I am in a binding arbitration hearing.  A teenager has been killed when two other drivers crash cars going home from high school.  There is not enough insurance money to go around.  So we agree to go to arbitration rather than a jury trial.    My then law partner Pat LePley and I represent the father. Others represent the mother and the injured driver who wasn’t at fault.   We need to show that the greatest loss of all is to the father.  He lived in a log home he had built by hand.  He was married to the boy’s mother.  But when the child was three months old she left both of them to find a different life.  So the dad raised his son as a single parent for 17 years.  People don’t take enough pictures of their beloveds.  Maybe now Facebook has changed that.  But back then there were so few pictures.  There is one that stands out even though it doesn’t show their faces.  The beautiful strong man with his baby in a back pack is walking down a wooded forest lane.

As soon as I am done presenting the case, I feel IT.  IT is overwhelming.  IT is rumbling.  I do not want to show IT.  I have been trained not to show IT.  My Grandfather has genetically disposed me not to reveal IT.  But IT is washing over me.  I mumble to Pat, excused myself and barely get to the other side of the door.  The tears are falling, dripping all over me.  I let them run out.

(Photo of my siblings and I with my dad on his 75th birthday)