Let me start by saying, dear son, that it is 2 in the morning and I hope to whatever God is listening, that you will never be burdened with insomnia. It is a soul-crushing chasm that evokes the innermost tortured spirits the human mind can muster behind closed doors and beneath clutched sheets.
The good news is that insomnia lends itself to a free-flow of thought that is far more raw and truthful against the backdrop of blackness and street lights and crickets. It is in these transparent moments that I am compelled to write whatever happens to pop into my brain — you happen to be the topic tonight.
So, here are just a few things I wanted you to know, dear son:
Life as I knew it changed the moment you made your presence known to this world.
Not in the way life is affected when you meet someone new at a coffee shop or walking down the street.
Your existence was far more visceral – almost like the very makeup of my body’s molecules had somehow been altered and swollen in order to occupy all that extra love.
Sometimes, I wish I could give you the world, son. But, atlas (See what I did there?) I cannot.
You see, there is too much pain and anger and love and strife in this all-encompassing cacophony of our world that you couldn’t possibly fit it all into those two, little, milk-stained hands of yours.
I do not wish you the world.
However, I wish you the understanding that you can match its force and power – your footprint in this life’s soil can be the first or last of many upward, meaningful journeys.
Remember that scuffed up knees and hands are blueprints of where you’ve been and where you intend to go. Just like scars, they don’t reflect weakness but instead fortitude and perseverance.
Remember that your hair doesn’t always have to be combed and washed; it can be dirty and tangled and wild just like your spirit, my child.
Remember that sadness is okay, but mistaking this emotion for anger or acrimony is not okay and compounding the two most certainly leads to poor decision-making.
Remember that you can use others’ opinions of you to guide your behavior, but those opinions mustn’t diminish your light or sense of self-worth.
Remember that hurting someone might feel good for a few minutes, but showing compassion will feel good for the rest of your life.
Remember that most people are too proud or ashamed to ask for help, so offer it anyway. Help a woman with her bags. Put away an old man’s shopping cart. Give that homeless man water.
Remember the difference between excuses and explanations.
Remember the difference between love and lust.
Remember the difference between actually earning something and believing you deserve it.
Remember that bravery isn’t measured in money or prowess or intelligence or success – it’s measured solely in what you had to relinquish from a metaphysical point.
Remember that emotional, physical, and mental pain is not a reward, it’s your body’s way of telling you to stop. It’s wrong. Letting ourselves believe pain is an accomplishment is one of the biggest lies we manage to convince ourselves.
Remember that you love me, for I fear there will be plenty of days you don’t think you do – days you swear I am ruining your life or I’m a terrible parent, or you wish you had been born into another family. And when you say these things, I will hug you even when you don’t want to be hugged.
Because – while I cannot give you the world, my dear son – I can at least give you MY world.