Across the Chasm: Writing letters to your kids
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I sat in my familiar spot on the front porch steps a few days ago watching you play. It was late in the afternoon. Past dinner.
I gave in to one final fit of “I want to ride my bike/do cartwheels/dig holes” and let you play outside for “10 minutes”. I watched you ride your bikes up to the edge of the road. The spot where the aggregate of our driveway meets the danger of the asphalt road. You two little ones both rolled towards that edge, dragging the frayed toes of your shoes in the half light. You stopped beside our dented mailbox.
The neighbor kids, Erin and Alex, sat the edge of their driveway across the street. They stared back at you.
“Hi Alex,” you said, Max.
“Hi,” he answered.
The neighborhood was quiet. The 4 of you sat for a few minutes looking at each other, not sure what to say or do with those final moments before dark.
The road; The great chasm between you.
The forbidden road in the bleakness of dusk. There was something desperate about the moment. You looked at your friends, as if not sure how to play anymore. I called your names and waved for you. Outside playtime was over. The reality of bath time, pajamas, and bedtime grew closer. I thought about my 4:30am alarm and morning swim and how soon I could get in bed.
“I can ride my bike,” you said to your friends, Max, as you turned and pedaled towards the house.
I took you in the house and started the bedtime rituals. As I drifted to sleep later that night I wondered about the chasm between us all that paralyzes us – the great gulf of loneliness that separates us, like the streets of our childhood – when “getting in the street” was still forbidden.
I thought about connection. And I wondered why I’ve been a loner most of my life. I have plenty of friends. And I tend to spend a lot of time alone. It’s another reason I love triathlon. It happens in my head, where I can be comfortable – alone with my thoughts. I’ve always felt that great divide between me and other people. But never with you.
It occurs to me that maybe writing these letters to you kids is how I’m reaching across the chasm of time and the future, where my hugs and kisses won’t be as coveted. Where you won’t hug me with both arms anymore. Where you won’t know what to say or do around me anymore. Where things won’t come naturally anymore. One of my biggest fears is losing my connection to you kids and Mommy and falling into the loneliness that I’m capable of.
So, as I watched you stare at your friends across the street I thought about how you’ll find your old dad later in life – when I’m like the kids on the other side of the street. I hope as you’re reading these letters now it makes knowing and remembering me easier.
Swim in oceans. Ride up tall mountains. Run on trails through the woods. Say “I love you”. Write letters to your kids. Time passes at the speed of dreams.
I love you,