Today, my eldest son reached the age—in years, months, and days—that I was the day my father died. I’ve marked the days my husband and I both reached my father’s age at his death, and today I mark the day for my son. Because that’s something one can actually do about death: mark the day. Like I was, S. is a six-year-old kindergartener who feels safest at home with his parents, siblings, and cats. He loves his kindergarten teacher but tells me that “kindergarten takes a long time” as he yawns on the couch after school. He would like to buy lunch in the cafeteria like some of his classmates do but is nervous about carrying the tray to the table. He wants to be a construction worker, tree expert, astronaut, farmer, and baker. As of this morning, when we drove by a downed pole surrounded by emergency power-plant personnel, he also wants to be an electrician like his Grandpa. I don’t remember being a six-year-old kindergartener, but through S., straight through that pure heart, I send love and a goodbye to the kindergarten girl who lost someone, and something, profound.
The thing is, J. just walked in from work. He came home. As usual, the boys raced to the door to greet him with a chorus of “Daddy’s home!” A nightly routine that still hasn’t waned. As I write this, he’s reading them bedtime books. My six-year-old kindergartener gets to have his father longer than I did. It’s been hard as hell to get to today, but this is the easiest gift in the world to give him: more time, and more time, and even more time, with his dad.