The Gift of the Monkey King.

Sun_Wukong_and_Jade_Rabbit It had been a difficult delivery and Marquita was exhausted and dehydrated. But finally a healthy baby was born, the cord cut… and the small team now divided it’s attention between mother and baby. The delivery room was a mess and down the hall some woman was screaming. They had taken Ethan from us and were busy cleaning him up and weighing or measuring or doing whatever. Then we got to hold him. And as soon as we moved into a private room Marquita fell asleep. I was nearly doing the same… looking down at the fragile baby in my arms in the light of the window. And when I turned back toward the bed, a figure stood in the door. A monkey. He wasn’t very tall, but definitely regal… wearing Chinese robes of deep gold and black… and he walked in without saying a word. (Because I assume elegantly dressed monkeys probably talk.) He stood in front of me and leaned on an ornate iron staff, that was a bit taller than him. “His name is Ethan?” he said leaning forward. (Unaccented English… with a deep rich tone.) “Uh, yes.” I said… speaking to the Monkey. “That is good… may I offer a blessing?” He asked. His face was inches from mine. I could see the browns, tans and grays of his facial hair. And the golden glisten of his dark brown eyes. He had the faint dark smell of incense and pine. “Of course.” I answered. (Because… you know…) As he intoned some blessing in some other ancient language I took the time to look at the stitching on his robes, the bits of gold and blue trim… and at his monkey toes and sandals, at his hand- from the thick hair at the wrist, to the long thick nails… it was as long as my son. He finished his song with a breath. I understood. And then he gave me a nod, which I returned… and he turned (his tail from under his robe, grabbing the door handle… and gently closing the door…) and he left. I was left with this knowledge of a blessing… a birthright. A promise from the monkey king. And I told no one. “Who was that?” Marquita asked… stirred from her sleep. “No one”, I answered. “Just a dream.” And from that day, through the next 20 years he lived out the Monkey King’s blessing. Ethan was energetic and clever and mischievous… but sensitive. Restless, creative, inquisitive… And he could be crude and hurtful… thoughtless… but never on purpose. That never changed. Nor did his giving heart. Nor did his energy wane. And it was only as he grew into manhood that the darker shadows crept into his makeup… a deep unmet longing… doubts… an endless and deepening sadness, and a sleeplessness… and it never occurred to me how this was eating him inside. I had thought that ultimately he would figure it all out. That he would resolve the conflicts in his soul and learn how to chase away the darkness… That he would find his way and live out the promise the Monkey King made. And I thought he had found the first steps of that in his love of music, and in the ease at which music theory seemed to come to him But that all ended when he took his own life back in March a few years back. And in all of that, in all my grieving and sadness… in the searching that goes on from the broken heart of a father I looked for the Monkey King… in the crowds, at his memorial… and in my wanderings. But I never saw anything of him. And finally, in the dark of night, I was stirred from sleep. I slipped on some pants and flip flops and took the dog down to her yard… and then I saw him there on the deck standing above me facing the light of the full moon. I felt a flash of fear… and a bit of anger, and so I went back inside and upstairs. I got to the deck and he stood leaning on his staff with both hands… looking in the window at Ethan’s ashes. I slid the door closed gently and walked toward him. And he didn’t move or look up. He was crying… and I realized that I was as well. I waited to find my voice… and with a breath, I asked “Why?” And his head seemed to drop a bit. He did not look up. I felt like reaching out for him, like placing my hand on his drooping shoulders… but I stood at a distance. And finally, I spoke to him. “You lied.” He lifted his head and I caught the look of pain in his eyes… Softly he answered… “I’m sorry.”

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