The birth of my son in April 2002 was one of the great moments of my life. My former English Professor’s simple response to the news resonated deeply, and still does:
“Congratulations, you’ve just met the love of your life.”
Fortunately, the profound joy of welcoming my son to the world would be rediscovered two years and thirteen days later, on that April 2004 day when my daughter was born. I’d met the second, equal love of my life.
The wondrous bliss of their very existence helped me to sculpt and define my overall life-definition in countless positive ways. It’s not as if I had been directionless before, but this had truly engendered a greater purpose for my thoughts, focus, and attention than any I’d ever known. My self-definition had a new title; foremost before I was an author, musician, husband, friend, software guy (this was before podcasting), etc., I was a father.
Every day from birth for each of them, I found the most profound sense of pride and love and connection in their every miraculous smile and triumph and adorable action. I was the proudest guide and ambassador to life for these two beautiful little minds. If I’m allowed to take carry-on memories into the next incarnation, then all of the moments I’ll pack will include my son and daughter.
Through no choice or actions (or inactions) of our own, my children and I have endured three long, painful, pointless, damaging eras of separation. The longest so far began on July 13, 2008, and was ended this past Friday, April 23, 2010. No words can describe the fathoms of heartbreak during those stolen six hundred and fifty days, of all that time apart. No words can encompass the depths of happiness from reconnecting with the loves of my life.
I’ll share one amongst a weekend full of beautiful moments:
I’d recorded a mediocre, live solo video of myself performing the song, “Keeper”, which I’d written for them, during our time of alienation. One lyric was tweaked, and the video was edited for and donated to “The Boom Effect” telethon, a fund-raising event to help my friend Tee Morris continue providing comfortably for his daughter, following the tragic loss of his wife. In spite of all the sorrows surrounding the circumstances, the song and video together are a light-hearted message from Father to child(ren).
I finally had a chance this past weekend to share the video with my children. They laughed at all of the right moments (they loved Evo on the sled) and – I think – appreciated and understood the sentiment. I played the .mp3 of another “Keeper” live recording in the car this afternoon, at weekend’s end, and I could tell that song’s the message of love and reassurance had reached them both on a much deeper level, this second time around. At the end of the playback, my daughter said that she really liked the part where I said, “If you get lost, I’ll come and get you.” She leaned forward, took my hand, and pulled it into the backseat to hug my arm; my son then did the same. I believe they understand that their Daddy had never given up on them and had never stopped caring about them, even during the unwanted communication drought. I told them I’d give them copies so they could listen any time, and my daughter said she’d listen to it forever and ever. My son’s response was enthusiastic, although slightly more deadpan: “Cool”.
My two beautiful children are that much stronger and more secure today, because they’ve rediscovered the foundation and support of their Father’s love, and they’ve heard my promise that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my love remains actively present for them as they grow up.
The long periods of damaging alienation should never have occurred – – neither should the emotion/bank account/creativity/inspiration-draining struggles and interferences (I’m hoping and working for a new era of peace and minimal strife moving forward, but if history is a reliable predictor. . . . . ). But let’s not focus on the bad. In spite of all the chaos and negativity, my children and I have been reunited. Let’s hope this connection is never interrupted again.
I must express my deep gratitude to all of the people whose support and actions made possible this reunion, enabling all of this weekend’s wonderful moments of understanding and reconnection. They’re all keepers. Thank you.
Do you know that you make me proud?
Now let’s play games and laugh out loud.
We’ll write our names up on the moon,
Shine every night into your room.
Though every day you’re getting older,
There’s always room for you on my shoulders.
You are the Keeper of my smiles,*
See you again in a little while.
I’m always there now,
Just close your eyes I’ll always be there.
Even when I’m gone I don’t forget you,
If you get lost I’ll come and get you.
We’ll go explore this whole blue earth,
After that we’ll rock the universe.
We’ll ride to the moon on chuggin’ steam trains,
Then fly back home on paper airplanes.
You are the Keeper of my smiles,
See you again in a little while.
*Lyric changed to “It was never really ‘Man vs. Child'” for the Boom Effect video.