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“Anything’s better than a pitcure of a child in a cloud of gas – and you think you got it bad.”
– “Money Don’t Matter 2Night (Prince)
SAN FRANCISCO — A couple of weeks ago I got a copy of a book I wrote an essay for. The book is named “Voices from the Blue States,” and my job was to choose an angle from which to riff regarding the, then, upcoming 2004 Presidential election.
I chose parenthood. At that point, I was a three-month veteran parent, a real pro on the subject, so I went there. Seeing the engagement in Iraq, and its frenzied state, it seemed reinforcements might be needed in the way of a draft.
Watching PBS’ “News Hour” every night, and its conclusion where they show all of the nation’s casualties of the day, I thought of all those parents who have lost their children to something they may have seen as unnecessary – at least it’s the terminology most of them used when interviewed as I watched.
Thinking that our president was a slipped mickey away from getting the draft process started in his second term, it became my focus – and my subject matter for the essay.
The lead-in song is thoughtful to me because it’s one of the last great moments I remember my late friend Alex and I having riding in my Jeep, and singing that song, but that line has much poignancy – not because at 18 months-old, my kid is almost as tall as Prince – but losing a child is just a harrowing thought.
Then came James Dungy.
The young Dungy stepped it up a beat with his parents, especially, his father Tony, not being able to say goodbye to him.
Suddenly a parent has to feel like Clark Kent did in “Superman 2″ when he gave up his powers for Lois Lane and General Zod and his crew had their liberties on the planet Houston – pretty defenseless, like you had the power to stop this madness and you blinked too long before things got out of hand.
I don’t have it chronicled anywhere, but it was one of many times I’ve heard someone say, “don’t forget to hug your child and tell them you love them every day, because you don’t know if that’s the last time you’ll ever get the chance.”
That’s probably more so between fathers and sons. Those relationships have no set dynamic, but the pride a father has of his son – the rest is dictated over time.
I’ve become addicted to taking my son to the park, and playing with him.
Not taking him to the park and setting him free into a sea of kids – but being his playmate, or being a part of his fun when he does connect with another toddler.
If I die from that heart attack or brain anuerysm that I know is coming, then I want him to have great flashbacks of those moments with his father.
18 years. Unless you live on that planet from “Logan’s Run” where everybody dies at 30, that’s not a life.
That’s a footnote.
If you ask any parent who loses a child that young to write down dreams and expectations for that child – the only thing that may stop them is the carpal tunnel pains from writing so much – and the pain in their heart that won’t allow them to concentrate through the grief.
It’s a little too late at night to give the Moose a hug now, cuz he won’t go back to sleep until Thursday, but I may do some extended arm-carrying time through the park in the next couple of days, just in case our forever is today.