We break things. We’re human. Sometimes we break them twice, three times and more. The best we can hope for is being forgiven, recovery and repurposing. We also hope the mistakes we made can be avoided by our children, but in the event that they take a similar path, we pray that they watched how we got through it.
Getting through. Rising above. Learning to dance in the storm. Did they pay attention?
At times I am convinced that some of our trials are created for those who are trying to follow in our footprints.
Bernard Malamud, who was an American novelist and short-story writer gave us wisdom when he said, “We have two lives. The life we learn with and the life we live with after that. Suffering is what brings us toward happiness.”
It is with those thoughts that I write some notes to my son, Tyler on the eve of his birthday, 2/13/91. The older brother. The role model. The larger than life golden child. My heart.
I simply entitle it, “Blink.”
The late Harry Chapin wrote a song called “Dancin’ Boy.” Many remember him for songs like “Taxi” and “Cats in the Cradle,” but “Dancin’ Boy” was a “life defining” song when I was in college. I would play it over and over and had no clue as to why it would hit me so hard.
I was young and carefree and didn't have children.
I think that with that song, God was putting you in my heart, although it would be years before I saw your face for the first time.
When I first heard it, of course I was thinking of my dad and realizing that my relationship with him had outgrown playing catch and buying baseball cards and that made me sad as time had moved on with just a blink of an eye. Then you were born and that song became ours.
I hummed it to you with tears in my eyes while I held you the first time. Four days later, having you home, I put you up on our piano and sang it to you. It was most likely familiar as I sang it many times to you when you were being formed by the hand of God inside the womb.
I sang it many times after that, but knew that like every song of life, we’d eventually come to the sad part. "The time will come my dancin' boy, when your dancin' days are done... when daddy and his dancin' boy will have dwindled down to one. You know the world will have taught you other steps to match the march of time. So you'll have to keep our dancin' days, dancin' in your mind.”
And somewhere in the chorus, I blinked. I opened my eyes and you were "Death Row DeLap" dancing defiantly and anchoring that defensive line in pee-wee football. I blinked again and you were wearing a king's homecoming crown and dancing with your junior class on the football field. And no sooner than you graduated from high school, you were dancing on the college hardwood, living out your dream to play college ball.
Once more, I blinked and a tear came as I saw you dancing with your bride.
The world is teaching you other steps to match your march of time. You are a successful auditor, a good husband, the perfect son, an inspiring brother and a trusted friend. You have learned your lessons well and tonight my heart aches to eat cake with you like we did when you were young. To watch movies and to hear your infectious laugh. To hug you and tell you just once more that I love you.
It's the proper cycle of life. And it's your time to shine. To grab all that this life has for you.
And then one day we'll both blink, and you'll be smiling down at your own dancin' boy, and hoping that he watches how you’ve learned to dance in the rain and appreciate the sun.
At Midnight I'll hum the song yet again and send it with my prayers on the night wind so that you hear it when you dream.
You'll always be, my dancin' boy.