Last Thursday evening was the third grade music program at school, so our family went to watch Kyle do his thing, and Sue rode with us. It was hard, as everything these days is hard, but we seemed to be doing okay, clapping and smiling, and even chuckling at some of the more amusing parts. Then toward the end of the program, the kids sang a song called “Helping Me Grow.” Yes, it was sappy and sentimental, about grown-ups helping their kids to grow big and strong and stay healthy, and just taking care of them in general. Yes, I started crying. I was sitting next to Sue, and after a bit, I looked over at her, and she was stifling her tears, and I put my arm around her and put my head on her shoulder for a bit, and we were sitting in the front row, and I didn’t care that some kids saw tears running down my face. I thought, Papa should be here.
I tried to put a word to how I felt, and found it: cheated. Papa had been to all the boys’ music programs in the past, and would have been at this one, too – and surely WAS there, in spirit – but we’ve been cheated of his presence, his warmth, his dedication. His love for our little boys goes on, but he isn’t here to show and express it to them, to hug them, laugh with them, teach them. I cried because my sons, and their cousins, have been cheated.