I’ve loved him since he only wanted to eat the applesauce already on his face and not from the cup and since he snuck into bed with me in the middle of the night for no reason at all. Since hours of video game play and marathons of Rock-a-Doodle. I’ve loved this kid, unfailingly, unendingly, since he drew all over my beloved Dr. Seuss books, since teaching him how to shoot a basketball, since watching him blossom from a quiet child who didn’t say much to a kid who blathered on and on about anything. I’ve loved him through good and bad and the one fight we’ve had since we’ve been brother and sister and through calmly coaching him through his nervousness at driving, even when I was sure we were gonna die. This kid, MY kid, has been awesome since he got here. I adore him so much it hurts.
I think if you asked 5 year old me, she’d tell you I couldn’t wait for him to enter this world and loved him even before he got here.
I watch him when he thinks I’m not and I wonder what it would take for the world to see him like I do. How many children, how many sons, have to be gunned down in their own neighborhoods, on subway platforms, outside of clubs, before they are allowed the right to be full human beings. To be good and bad in equal measure; to be redeemable from their human mistakes. To be someone of value, a someone who belongs to someone, to be a father or a fiancé or a son or a brother first, before they are a suspect. I wonder if there will ever be a space where their black or brownness does not enter before they do, carrying with it all the centuries of struggle and stereotype inherent therein.
I wonder when I look at this kid, MY kid, at 23, tall and slim with a penchant for wearing all black and hoodies that cover the unruly curly hair he has not yet learned to tame, if institutionalized, ingrained blindness keeps people from seeing him as I do. As a kid with a sister who loves him, who hates vegetables but will eat raw broccoli, who once asked me with tears in his eyes why sometimes kids at his school weren’t as nice to his darker friend as they were to him and broke my heart. I wonder if, when he goes out into the world, he’s light enough to pass for a bystander and not a perpetrator, or if he’s just light enough to be asked for his papers. I sometimes try to step outside myself and wonder how people would see him if God forbid my favorite person to watch Scooby Doo with became the center of a national tragedy. Would his story be worth writing? Would this kid, MY kid, be held up as a martyr or burned at the stake? Would he be mere pieces of a larger picture, his shortcoming and failures too irredeemable to be mourned? Would anybody know how well he draws or his penchant for adeptly taking apart and rebuilding things? Or would he be reduced to some caricature, small slivers of his humanity wedged into the predetermined avenues and attitudes of a larger conversation? Would he be on trial even in his death? I wonder would he only be important if it were convenient, if it were compelling, if he were perfect.
Despite being everything to me.
I wonder, more often than I care to admit, if I will ever lose him to this ferocious world I couldn’t wait for him to enter.