I’ve been wanting to write to you directly for some time now, and finally an event at work caused me to put pen to paper. I don’t know how old you’ll be when you read this, but hopefully you’ll be old enough to understand it. If you don’t understand it, ask me or another adult about it.
The reason I decided to write to you today is that I wanted to tell you that I cried at work yesterday.
Now, I know you’ve seen me cry once, but you probably don’t remember it. And I’m sure you don’t remember why. I never saw my dad cry, but I have to believe that he did–at least once. Sometimes I think it would’ve been nice to have seen it with my own eyes as a boy. So in case you never see me cry again, I’m telling you now that I cry.
I cried yesterday because I found out that a guy who works for the same company as me was killed on the job, by the job. And in a separate incident, another guy was really badly injured and might die as well. As the group of us walked out of the noisily air conditioned trailer where we were handed this news and into the hot sun in order to get back to the dangerous work, I could only think of you. I could only think of how you look when you look at me, which is to say look up at me. Your chin sticks out; your eyes are at attention; your hair falls freely off the back of your head. You’re such a good listener. Well, it’s time to listen up again. Sad things happen in life. Really sad things. One of the appropriate responses to these sad things, even for dads, is to cry. But just because sad things happen doesn’t mean you stop living life. Sad things are a part of life–just like happy things and boring things. You have to move forward, move past them. Even though I was sad, I went back to work.
Okay. I think that’s it. I don’t have any big finale. I love you.
PS – I do have one more thing. You’re a beautiful girl H-, never doubt that.
“I heard that his face was blue.”
“I heard that he still had a faint pulse, so they tried CPR on him for a long time. It’s all about oxygen in the brain. Doesn’t matter if there’s a pulse if the brain’s been deprived of it for that long.”
Any teacher looking toward the boys during the passing period could tell by their enhanced self-awareness that none of them possessed tools capable of handling the news. As if bound by tacit consent, each of them did their part to keep the silence–the sadness–at bay.
“His parents were the first to see him in the tree early this morning. Can you imagine it?” the boy asked, almost forgetting to avoid silence. “Knowing that,” the boy stumbled to resume, “knowing that while you were sleeping in your bed, right outside your window your child was…” the boy couldn’t say it.
“I’ll tell you something. His brother, Josh, is probably the reason I began lifting weights,” another interrupted in an attempt to lighten the mood. Attentive and curious eyes rewarded his move. “Seriously. I remember in gym, in 7th or 8th grade, that a girl was in awe upon, at her request, seeing his flexed bicep. She had such a big smile.”
Their acceptance of a prolonged silence told him they were happy to hear more of this odd revelation.
“Yep. I remember going home and flexing. I was so ashamed. He wasn’t much stronger than me, but compared to the sphere sitting between his elbow and shoulder, mine was like a straw. In that moment, I knew what I had to do if I wanted a girl’s attention.”
They shook their heads in disbelief at his confession, so he continued.
“Of course, if we were to replay the situation today, he’d look puny. On that day the big difference between he and I was that he was flexing incorrectly, his arm bent all the way, while I was already using a more proper pose, arm bent at ninety degrees,” he modeled to an approving audience. Dropping his arm, he concluded, “But she didn’t know any of that. And without her, without that smile, I can’t say for sure that I would’ve ever picked up a weight.”
“Great story man,” one of them voiced, lighting laughter’s fuse.
“Give me a break! It’s just a memory I had,” he answered, smiling as they shuffled off to their classes.