I wont always be there. If fact, at the moment this letter is being written I’m over 4,700 miles away, sitting in a small poorly lit little dorm room lost in thought as the clock ticks its way past midnight — racing its way to morning.
I wont always be there. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep growing. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep experiencing new things. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep making memories. Cause when I return, oh will there be stories to tell.
I wont always be there.
More often than not.
And that’s okay.
During my recent travels in London your mother sent me pictures of your latest adventures and newest experiences. I watched from a distance as you experienced the ground beneath your feet and saw the pure joy spread across your face as you sat frozen in time covered head to toe in dirt. I watched from a distance as you experienced the water that eats away at the ground we so desperately cling to. I watched from a distance as you sat in your new high chair scarfing down food to grow big and strong. I watched from a distance the happiness of finding yourself promoted to the larger stroller seat as you chowed down upon a toy knowing that you were growing up.
You were frozen in time.
And yet still so alive.
There was pure joy.
You love life.
If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to say in this letter. Perhaps I thought I’d sit down and write up an amazing shrapnel of wisdom. Perhaps I was simply inspired by the lyrics floating through my head of “The stories we will write” and the anthem that screams “Here’s to the ones who dream”. Perhaps I needed to freeze a memory in time for an age weathered future me that I know will forget the value of the moments I’ve had.
In any case, I just wanted to sit down and capture at least one last moment in time. Something that I can freeze and see every-time I’m in a land far away. I think that makes this less a letter to you, and more a letter to myself.
Prior to you coming to this world I wondered if I’d ever miss you. Please forgive me, I simply didn’t know. I was, of course, mistaken. After you came into our lives you spent the first couple months bringing nothing but drama and terror to the lives of your parents. Constantly thrashing and simply frustrated with your lot in life. Don’t worry, I understand. Life is hard.
And then we arrived at the airport. Over the course of the previous 8 months you have wiggled your way into my heart, capturing my imagination and transforming my conversations. When I arrived at work each day I swapped stories with the other fathers who all dreamt of the day our children would grow up but like hypocrites we openly spoke of how fast our children did so with a note of disappointment.
Little did I know how much I could talk in length about every new quirk, and every new experience you had. Living in, and as part of your moments I could replay the events over and over with complete context. It wasn’t just that you chased down poor Martin and his ball, but that you continued to pursue it with a ravenous fascination — it was his ball or nothing. I experienced you in real-time, without the need to freeze the moments in time.
And then I had to leave you at that airport in Seattle.
Your mother reached down to pick you up from the car seat that you lay in, so snug and warm, and where you had been resting your tired little eyes. Yawning you took in the world around you. A new place. A new experience. The airport’s flurry of activity glistened in your eyes as you watched for the first time the true pace of humanity dashing before you.
Drawing your eyes away from the swirling world around you, your eyes met mine and a smile broke across your face. You uttered the only word that you knew other than “Ma-Ma”:
Frozen in time.
My eyes and yours.
You struck a deep chord.
Overcome, tears rushed from my eyes.
You had no way of knowing. Not from the smiles on our faces. Not from the tone of our voices. You had never seen me leave your side and not return before the sky grew cold and the night washed in. While your mother had taken you on trips to family, it was always me watching you go. Now it was your turn to watch me walk away.
But you called me “Da-Da”.
You uttered it again.
I turned away.
My dear sweet little Apollo. I won’t always be there. But I now know the truth in the lyrics that “parts of me were made by you,” and that while I may be distant in a far away land “you’re gonna live forever in me. I’ll guarantee, just wait and see.”
When I think of you, I am frozen in time.
Dream big little man.