I’ve been blessed in so many ways. My family is happy and loving. We laugh. We laugh a lot.
My kids have always known stability and security. They’ve rarely, if ever, seen my wife and I fight. There’s a good reason. We don’t fight.
Their childhoods have been built on a strong foundation of togetherness. They’ve never had to worry about food or shelter.
They’ve known the stability that comes with setting their feet on the same floors which have echoed their footfalls for years and the pleasure of returning to play with the same friends they’ve known since they could know.
They have not been surrounded by brown cardboard boxes year after year holding the meager things they cherished while migrating from one place to another, none of which ever truly feeling like home. They’ve never moved a candle from one place to another just to see if it was that same way and in the same place when they returned, if they returned.
Never have they known the loneliness from being the new one – the continual outsider who craves to fit in and stay, only a short while later being forced to crawl back into themselves just as fledgling roots were taking hold to solid soil – uprooted once again as the annual harvest threshing marched forward.
They’ve never had to pretend to be something or someone they were not, not because they wanted to lie, but because they wished so fiercely it were true. No, my children know who they are.
Violence from the world or within their world has never been a part of their experience. They have not needed to worry about their own safety. They have never known fear and vulnerability from staring into the wild eyes of an equally surprised stranger attempting to break into their small, nearly bare apartment. They’ve never seen their sibling rushed to the hospital because their seven year old fun irritated one of the grown ups.
They’ve never cowered in the corner, covered their ears, and wished the cacophony of screams to please just stop or wondered why love always requires hurt, tears and pain.
No, they have never experienced the kind of fear and confusion which finds and breaks something young, pure and deep.
They’ve never known shame from the laughter of others when they’ve stood in line holding a little red or blue ticket for reduced or free lunch. Never had to hold their head high and pretend to be tough while holding the badge of the dirty poor all the while wanting to either run far and fast or unleash hell on the judgement of the whispers and snickers.
That’s a special brand of shame, white and hot…not the situation over which they had no control but being ashamed for who they are. No, my kids can look others in the eyes and know they are equal.
Never have they had their worlds turned upside down and torn apart, never pitted between two loved ones who no longer loved one another. Never have they had to help pick up the shattered pieces of the lives of their heroes while they should have been out playing or wondered if what they were told was a skillfully crafted lie – irreparably scarred by never knowing both truth and the truth.
Our children know none of these things and I am thankful. They have a solid foundation and a good life. It is a new leaf from a tree planted long ago in the dreams, cries, and prayers of a lonely, scared, angry, and confused boy.
Enough for tonight. Tomorrow’s another light.