To the vigilant father at our Independence Day fireworks celebration

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I want you to know that Davis talked all day about watching the fireworks from the swings in the school playground.  He said the sky is closer when he is swinging.

I want you to know that we arrived early so he could get a swing, and so we could put our chairs on the edge of the playground to make sure we could see him clearly.

I want you to know that I walked over to him twice, to make sure he knew where our chairs were, and to tell him if he raised his hand, I would see him and come right over to him.  Everybody understood the plan.

I want you to know when my youngest tugged at my sleeve with excitement to point out his favorite fireworks, for a brief moment I shared the sky with him – how rare those moments are – and then the swing was empty.

I want you to know that right before you approached, my eyes searched behind the swings to see if he had fallen or if someone had harmed him, which is a worry that exhausts me because it never goes away.

I want you to know that your words —  “are you looking for your son?” — were welcomed with tidal waves of emotion behind my eyes – fear, gratitude, sadness  – but I couldn’t express any of it as I pressed on to where said you saw him go.

I want you to know that when I found him, I hugged him hard, and thought about you – what you had done for me by keeping an eye on him even though he isn’t yours, and how much I noticed there was no judgement in your eyes or in your words.  Thank you.

I want you to know that I have navigated his diagnosis, his surgery, his illness, and his school needs but this territory of Independence which I navigate now is too big for me.  I see in his eyes and hear in his voice his pleading – I’m twelve, mom – and I’m terrified.  Can we move back down, to eleven, ten, nine…..all the way to when I could hold him and protect him, and keep him safe?

I want you to know that my only hope, really, is you.  Please never take your eye off my son or others who need you too.  And know that even though this boy will become a teenager, a young man, a man, we will never outgrow our need for companions on this journey.  Please walk along with us, for as much as we try, we cannot travel alone.