Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Today we let your mother sleep in, and we snuggled on the couch together while you continued leafing through the massive encyclopedia of dinosaurs you checked out from the library and the last 30 minutes of the World Cup match between Costa Rica and Serbia roared from the TV screen. Later we had brunch downtown, and later still we played video games, you taking sadistic glee in striking my Go-Kart with heat-seeking red turtle shells and beating me 4-2 at Wii Sports baseball on a towering three-run homer.
We had peculiar and wandering conversations in which I tried to explain to you the three branches of the federal government — indeed, the very concept of what a government was — using clumsy metaphors. We had moments of frustration on both our parts and reminders about safety and manners, because you are six and I am your parent and we are both in a perpetual state of Figuring This Out.
Today was not particularly different or noteworthy as far as our history of summer Sundays go, but inasmuch as every day I get to be your father is a special one, today was a special day.
I did not have to be brave for you today.
I did not have to do whatever grim arithmetic other fathers and other mothers have to do that makes them decide their odds of survival have dipped near to zero if they stay where they are, in the only home they might ever have known, in the land where they were once children themselves.
I did not have to gather every asset I had and place it into a satchel for somebody else to keep or sell as they saw fit. I did not have to accept the risks that the boat would sink into the sea or that the mercenaries would leave us to die alone in the desert.
I did not have to send my pride into exile and navigate the conversation between myself and my reflection about what choices I could have made differently and what circumstances I could control that could have prevented us from reaching this point.
I did not have to plead for sanctuary from a nation that was currently under the administration of the cruel and the hateful, people who will use one side of their mouth to name the men I was escaping as low, savage animals and then the other side of their mouth to refer to my family as little better.
I did not have to strain every cord in my neck screaming at the armed, frowning automatons to let you stay at my side. I did not have to feel helpless as you disappeared around the corner calling for me to bring you back. I did not have to spend hours wondering who you were with and if they knew what you loved and what you were afraid of and if they even cared what a unique and irreplaceable miracle you are to me.
I did not have to ask myself if certain death was worse than this.
I am a naturalized American citizen, who some 40 years ago flew over 7,000 miles in the arms of my mother with no more than a month of life in my skin. I spent today in the company of my wife and son within an intact, air-conditioned home without wondering if we would be able to eat tomorrow, and I am grateful for the things that I have that so many other fathers have had to do without. I also know that to live in America at this moment as an immigrant of any status is to walk upon the surface of a volcano, unaware if the temperamental masses of soil and stone will suddenly decide to swallow you whole.
Today I am able to be your father and today there are too many fathers that our nation’s cabal of power-mad sociopaths have deemed worthy of torment for the crime of desperation and attempted heroism. Today at least one of those fathers is dead, having killed himself in his cell after the despair of being separated from his family proved too much for his psyche to bear, and today we have no qualitative measure save basic common sense for what this policy is doing to the mental health of the children taken from their parents; placed in kennels as if they were no better than stray pets who roamed beyond the fences of their owner’s yards.
We know what this is doing to them. Too many of us have decided not to care.
Today is Father’s Day and I am blessed to be your father. I am concerned that one day you will learn what you lived through, and what others did not survive, and you will ask why I didn’t simply do as your grandmother did and fly you somewhere else entirely.
Love, and the firmest possible grip on your hand, Dad.