A note to my kids who I hope someday will read it when the time is right:
You’re already off playing on the playground - which is exactly what you should be doing. It’s a beautiful, warm, Fall afternoon. I’m just sitting on the sidelines, out of your way, now back in my car, on my laptop, writing this.
But, today, I needed to pick you up early. I needed to see you. I needed to run to your arms, even though it looked like you ran to mine. You didn’t see me “running” from all the way across town just for that moment. This afternoon, I needed you. I needed your light. And, you were there for me.
I needed you today in particular because I spent part of my afternoon at a funeral of a dear family friend who died too young - ALS. A friend who I’d known my whole life as a child, her a parent, whose children I played with in the backyard when we were little.
As I sat in the funeral service, I felt that stomach churn of tears battled, of memories longed for but lost, of pain shared with those I know and don’t. The pain of children and grandchildren left behind, moving forward. A spouse alone.
As I left the funeral and got into my car, I was flooded with that anxious fatigue of knowing what it means to lose a parent. I had that haunting shadow of dis-ease about me - that shadow of a parent and grandparent’s love eternal, but of a relationship frozen in time, fading, or never even to be known. Eternal, yet absent.
You will never know Bugsy. You will never know Maw and Paw. But, they love you. You will know them, their love, through the piece of me that is them.
And, yet, today it is your love that is the solace, the healing force. The touch point. The grounding. The focus. Just for a moment. For that hug and smile.
I could have never imagined that it would be I running to the arms of my children that would so clarify my understanding of what it means to be your Dad.
Because of all of this: I just needed you today. Just for a moment. I needed that hug - and I needed you to go on out and play. To be a kid.
And, just now, I heard one of your cries surfacing amid the throngs of kids voices at play. It’s your hurt cry.
You run to my arms again.