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POST SCRIPT: This piece was written in 1996, when Chrissie was 5.
Ten years later, at the age of 15, Chrissie started a terrible journey into drug abuse. She struggled for 10 years, ultimately becoming addicted to intravenous heroin and crack cocaine. She lived a life that no one would wish for anyone.
Nobody wants to be an addict.
On February 28, 2016, a miracle happened. Chrissie made the very courageous decision to get clean. Her strength and determination amaze us every day as she has remained sober.
And that, is Truly Cool.
Chrissie sprinted off the merry-go-round and burst out, “Wow, how great was that?” Over to the Junior HiWay, where she drove the little beeping firetruck in its eternal chase of the little peeping police car in its chase of the little beeping motorcycles. Chrissie never stopped smiling or waving--or steering.
I hate carnivals.
They’re loud, expensive and endless. And so I drove completely out of my way to avoid the center of town these past three days. But I only had to forget once for Chrissie, my 5-year-old, to catch a sighting of the giant swing, “Pharaoh’s Fury,” in the church parking lot. His fury must have been against parents, because one glimpse hypnotically started the “please-please-please-please-please's."
The pharaoh's curse lives on; we drove back right after dinner.
Chrissie’s first ride was a carousel that was roughly the size of our minivan on a turntable. As she circled and waved (we didn’t miss a revolution), I watched the teenagers who had come to the carnival to hang out. The Kool-Aid hair, the black lipstick and white skin, chains, bodies pierced, tattoos. The conforming non-conformists.
On to miniature dragon roller coasters and tot-sized Ferris
wheels, my little girl might as well have been piloting the
space shuttle for all her enthusiasm. She is so happy, so self-fulfilled, she’s oblivious to everything and everyone around her. She isn’t cold, she doesn't have to go to the bathroom.
She’s circling and beeping and waving. Does life get any better than this?
The teenagers with their dark, somber looks mill about. The wanna-bes and the gotta-bes, trying sooo hard to look truly cool. Spending the whole night pretending to be totally self-fulfilled by pretending to be totally oblivious to everything and everyone around them.
Last week, Chrissie tattled on her brother for using the “S” word--”stupid.”
In less than 10 years, she’ll be hanging out with her friends at the carnival, trying hard to look cool.
If she can only hold on to what it was like this night at the carnival when she was five years old. When she was effortlessly, completely, truly cool.
The Lancet gift to Al Maktoum Library