I received earlier today a package from my sister, Liza. In it was a very old glass paperweight, its glass clearly aged, its bottom devoid of the felt that a little kid had once glued to it. In the note that Liza sent with it, she commented,
As long as I can recall, Mom always had this [paperweight] by her computer in every home she lived in. I used to comment how precious a gift this was, and she'd smile with great love and satisfaction....The blond little boy in that photograph is smiling awkwardly. He appears to be four to six years old, though it's hard to tell. You try; click on the picture to see a larger version.
That little boy is on his second or third father. He's already used to comforting his single-parent mother on her many, many rough days, and he's either already been in his first fight or will be soon.
He hasn't yet put anyone in the hospital. His third father hasn't slapped him repeatedly and pushed him off the end of a dock to help make him a man. He hasn't lost his memories prior to age ten. He hasn't been a Young Marine yet, nor has he endured four years of daily beatings.
He and I are one, of course; this was a gift I made my mother long ago, one I'd forgotten.
Thank you, Liza. I will keep this near my main computer keyboard, as my mother did.
I miss my mom.
I also miss that boy. I would like to have known him in a world without the many fathers, without all the abuse, without the violence. I have no clue what he would have been like, nor will I ever be able to fathom that person.
When I stare at this picture, though, sadness invades me like a virus, and then my rage rises up and shoves it out and yells "Fuck you!" at all those who stole that future from that boy. From me.
I would like to have known that boy.