There was a moment when I may have been close to happy. When I was at peace
And I thought I had it all figured out.
I had gone from a child that was desperate
For some sense of significant.
To being a teacher and a husband and a father.
And the kids had grown up and moved out and had gone to college.
They were both going to be okay. And that made me okay.
And I had stopped wanting things. I learned to breathe.
From being poor in East LA… and not fitting in anywhere…
I thought I could turn down the corner of a Sears catalogue and somehow at some point I would get that GI Joe set and I would be happy. Or the bike. Or the denim jacket.
And when the TV guide came in the paper… each of the kids in the house would circle shows he or she wanted to watch… and I thought that one day I would have my own TV and I could watch what I wanted.
I thought I could sit in the library and read books above my understanding… and it would sink in. Or take another shift and try to save money to buy that bike. To be good… to try to be someone else… anyone else.
Summers long gone where between the activities I was just lonely.
I just wanted to fly away… to run… or to sleep and not wake up.
Between activities and stuff… material things… I learned, at least I thought I learned
That they would never give me what I wanted.
And that kid from East LA that I was… with every sibling that moved out and moved on
There were fewer fights and less screaming.
In the middle of this I found God. And that gave me peace.
More peace, better peace than buying an album- a new vinyl record and playing it loud
Over and over on headphones.
I thought this was it… I found love and dated and married. I thought I belonged to something. I found a career
It seemed to work… and there were moments of happiness and what I thought was some joy and peace and I could breathe… I was getting older.
And then my younger son took his life.
And I find myself again thinking about that Sears catalogue… and what thing on what page would have made my life work. Because things won’t make you happy.
Or wondering if my dad had ever been around… if this summer night would seem so empty now.
Or if all those hours spent in prayer or worship or reading the Bible amounted to some store of peace I could draw from.
And those people who I thought I belong with, belong to… who have strangely now gone… What I lost in that moment when I lost my son.
And I wonder what it would be like to go to sleep and never wake up…
Because I can’t think about killing myself. That would be wrong.
I think about the summers of my childhood… and swimming at the park pool
The smell of chlorine.
I think of big fires in concrete pits at the beach, and body surfing waves.
I think of the road trips we took the boys on when they were young.
If I could just have one more
Or one more summer with both my sons.
I know for a moment that I am still that kid.
Still scared and alone.