5

When I pick you up from daycare and we try to leave, little girls chase you down the hall and squeal your name. They wrap you in their arms and little gold stars twinkle and rain down on your beaming smiles. I think Look at you matter. Look at how much you matter in the world.

I can't believe you didn't exist before 5 years ago. Who can fathom? You are so firmly entrenched in the world. You're a stone tossed in my pond. Your ripples hit all my edges. It's wrong to say there was life before you. Your mark runs through my entire biography. Impossible? What do you care about time and rules and prohibitions against yelling Fuck in the park?

Oh Sweet Face. You are 5 today. I want to tell you things. I am so filled with wanting to teach you.

Listen. There will be people in your life who make you cry and you will feel like shrouding yourself in a cloud of bitterness. You will want to walk about scowling and waving your fist at happy people. But here's a little secret. The past? Well. You can change it. It can be changed and healed and re-written. It's not some hard and fast thing chiseled in a stone. Sometimes something reaches back and edits entire stories. Do you believe me? Do you believe that all our yesterdays can be changed by a today that flashes through our lives like lightning? Well, it can. I know it's true. For you, little girl, are just this kind of past changing thing.

When I was 18-years-old I was not so happy. One time I stood on a dock that stretched way out onto a frozen lake. I cried icicles, clenched my fists, and screamed until my throat hurt. I screamed at the dark and dared it to come get me. I said Well come get me then! I am not so afraid of you! I wanted to run as fast as I could to the end of the dock and leap right into the dark. I was not so happy.

But many years later, when you were born, when you were no more than a couple handfuls of raging pink littleness, the very first thing you did was change everything. When I saw you I shuddered with my whole body. The room rippled. I gasped. The future filtered through your open eyes. Your wail rewrote the past. That shuddering ripple changed everyone I ever was. You ran all the way back to that dock and whispered in my ear Don't you jump into the dark just yet, mister. You will one day be my Daddy.

And so I didn't. Instead, I sat cross-legged at the edge of the dock in a vague cool atmosphere of unarticulated reason to live. It would be OK. It would be OK. It would be OK. I walked home that night, oddly contented, in a rain of little gold stars that twinkled and beamed.

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