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Sorry, But Thank You

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Dear Jack,

I’ve been dreaming of a world for you. Feeling regretful that it is not one you are able to walk through every day. There is a bit of ugliness here that I can’t erase. But in my dreams I realize that we can make a little path through it all that is rather beautiful. And we can invite a few friends along for the walk. And they can bring a few friends too. Before you know it, our path is a road, a take-off point, a landing strip. And all that is ugly pales in the wake.

I am sorry I have to teach you to be weary of people. That whatever ugliness and confusion that fills them, bursts at their seams and spills onto others. I am sorry we have to learn the ways someone can place their hands on you, and how most certainly they cannot. I’m sorry that I was coaching you outside the bathroom to scream as loud as you can if someone somehow came into your locked stall. I’m sorry that we have the same conversation every time you go the bathroom. But I am most certainly proud of your strong stance of whatever seems so unjust to you. However small or big an issue, you are horrified and voice your opinion to me and then describe to me what you did about it. For in learning to scream loudly in defense of yourself, you have learned to scream as loudly for others who have been muted. When you told me a little boy with disabilities in your school has no Legos, so you gave him your own, “no trade, just gave it to him”, I cried. When you told me kids were laughing at someone for simply being themselves and you told them to stop and it wasn’t funny, I cried. When you told me you invited the little boy with “not so many friends” to the special lunch you got with your teacher, I cried. If I could only speak one more word of advice to you ever again, it would be ‘inclusion’. It is everything. It builds us up. It gives others a voice. It may prevent someone from doing something horrible. It is everything. At any given moment, I would choose not work and be with you every second I could. But that’s not our path and I have to work. And it hurt me leaving my little 8-month old boy and every second of his life thereafter. And the traces of the initial pain of that understanding still linger. Moments I didn’t get with you. I was worried of everything I missed. But I decided that the time I did have to spend away from you had better be well spent. So I wrapped that word ‘inclusion’ up close to me and went in search of something I could do with it. And it is now the center of the work I do. And it thankfully has become the center of your very wonderful being. And I suspect that you are not able to separate yourself from it. And so leaving little baby you, and now 7-year-old you, has become a lighter pain, as it is accompanied with the understanding that it has helped form your honorable self. I am thankful I taught you to include others and to fight for them when they cannot do so themselves.

I am sorry that you miss our Suzu, your grandma Suzu. I am sorry that I still cry. I am sorry that people are taken from us. It is just so rude. But I am most certainly proud of your poetic, flawless memories of her. Each recital paints for me an image of her that stands before me as if she were in front of me now. And you learned so beautifully how to live with loss. You grew so organically into the knowledge of loss; it seems somehow you will manage each loss with a shocking understanding. I imagine you navigating others through their losses on your path where pain is manageable. Just as you have done for me. A lot of us hold onto our pain from loss and let it chains us down. It wraps itself around our necks and restricts our breathing. We walk down hallways waiting for the loss to jump out at us. And even when it does, just as we had predicted, it knocks us off balance. Somehow I just know you will exist as an example to others how to navigate the messy world we live in. Help others sift through it and extract the beauty hidden all around it. Help people learn from their pain so they can look upon it in a new and enlightening manner. Each memory of Suzu is littered with memories of sweet understanding you. Each painful memory of her is accompanied with your understanding of where she is now and how wonderful it was that she was ever here at all. “What do you miss about Suzu?”, I ask quite often, just to hear you say, “the way she took care of me.” Oh, me too sweet boy. I am thankful we traversed this loss together and came out the other side laughing at the memory of what has gone from us now. Because man was she funny and what a disservice to her if all we did was extract the pain of her loss instead of the joy of her being.

I am sorry we are living our life yelling at each other to get off our phones. I am sorry I am sometimes guilty of burying my face in my phone instead of upon yours. I am sorry people are so distracted that it actually kills them. I am sorry that is a true statement and real. I am sorry I have to sometimes be an investigator to make sure the people taking care of you are present when fulfilling their responsibilities to you. But I am most certainly proud of you for yelling at me every time you see it. For bringing us back to the moment and making us happy in it. I am sorry I have to read books about being in the moment because I have allowed so many things to take me away from it. But I am a few gentle reminders. I secretly find great joy in your appalled reaction at the children around you who have inherited their leaders’ habits of burying their faces in something not real and disconnecting. “Mom, can you believe they’re doing that!” But let us take it further and help them refocus on the now. We have to be the example. At lunch not long ago we laughed together so hard I had tears in my eyes. People at other tables were staring at us. They weren’t sure what to do about the two of us. But we just kept laughing. And I am laughing as I write this as I recall that moment. We just put down the things clouding our vision and laughed together. It is what I will remember most about our time together when you were young. We are such a distracted world and we need living reminders such as yourself to suck up life in the moment. It is all we have.

As my Suzu was to me, I am your biggest fan. If I only knew you as someone else’s child, I would figure out how to be with you because you are so damn great. I really like you man. I am proud that you independently exist as a solid human. And I am relieved that I think you are going to do quite well on this path you have made. I have left some bread crumbs for you, but sometimes I look up and I realize that I am following the ones you are leaving for us all. I am sorry for all that the world is not; that it is not the dream I wish it could be. But thank you so dearly little darling boy for navigating it so beautifully and teaching us so much. Keep screaming out loud for yourself and for others. Help us draw beauty from pain. Keep including everyone you can and make it your life’s work. This is everyone’s space this world; help make enough room for everyone’s amazing self. Oh, and dance!

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