We finished most of the Christmas shopping today, and I definitely feel pretty accomplished in getting that done. Yesterday we took L. to get his eyes examined, since according to the school nurse he’s outgrown his current prescription. Scott took T. off to the next-door toy store to keep her out of trouble, and I read magazines while L. looked through a Where’s Waldo book. Those books give me a headache, but kids seem to love them. A man rushed in, apparently 35 minutes late for his eye exam. The beltway had been backed up and traffic diverted because of a man who had tried to throw himself off the overpass bridge.

“We’ll be seeing more of that type of thing, mark my words,” the man said to the lady at the front desk. She hmmmmd some response.

“You know, because of the economy.” He really didn’t need to add that last part, because everyone in that waiting room knew exactly what he was talking about. Exactly. And even if I don’t know why that man wanted to end his life in so dramatic and tragic a way, I felt sad for him the rest of the day. I thought about George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, trying to take the plunge in almost the same way. He was saved by that  bumbling angel, of course. I wonder if that man from yesterday will look back on his own life and imagine what would have been if he hadn’t existed, or whether he’ll be able to see his way out of whatever it is that’s got him so backed into a corner.

After the appointment we finished some shopping and everywhere there were other shoppers, all carrying their own private secrets–sorrows and joys–around with them as they shopped. I suppose we were, too. And I felt that old superstitious fear I used to have when I was little when things were going too well–that breath holding, where you worry that any second now it will all shift.