My hero spent last weekend with me. You know my hero by now.
I picked John up Friday afternoon so we could have dinner together. He had a little more bounce in his step as he grabbed his duffle bag with his clothes for the weekend. His smile resonated with me as he charged out the door and marched towards the car.
“Do you have your iPad?” I called to him. He stopped in his tracks and turned with his smile.
“Yes.” And so, the weekend could officially begin.
The short five-minute drive to my apartment was accompanied by the continuous news about a man, a black man, that was killed by a rogue, white, police officer while three others just stood by and watched. So disgusting. So terrible. So sad. There is obviously so much more that needs to be addressed to improve race relations in our country and it really is taking way too long. I hung on the words blaring through the radio of there needing to be a conversation. “A conversation?” I thought. It seems like all we have is conversations. I shook my head thinking of the never-ending “conversations” and so-called “strategies” and the lack of actual “doing”. I felt the tension build inside me as I peeked in the rear-view mirror. John was smiling as he stared out the window. Watching the world go by but not really understanding how the world was going by. We parked in the garage, he grabbed his duffle bag and led me to the elevator. His smile resonated with me as we waited to go upstairs.
“Are we going to have fun this weekend?” I asked as the door opened and he darted inside.
“Yes.” And the door closed to take us up to our pizza party dinner.
This weekend was going to be our first fishing trip of the year. We made it to a great spot that I was sure was going to yield all the excitement John would be able to handle. Three and a half hours later I was down to my last worm with no fish to show for it. John helps me by holding the rod as I bait the hook. I tried to sound as positive as I could that this would be the lucky worm. He really didn’t seem to mind anyway as his eyes were fixed on a pair of butterflies that were dancing nearby. My expert baiting skilled were highlighted the awkward way I fumbled with the worm which soon slipped from my fingers. I thanked the fishing gods that it didn’t fall in the water and hastily bent over to pick it up. What might have been the sound of a spring breeze through the trees was most likely those same fishing gods laughing as my glasses, ever so secure on the top of my head, fell off into the lake and sank as slowly as Jack Dawson from Titanic. My internal tension built as I turned to look at John. His smile resonated with me and I took that as the sign that it was time to admit defeat and go.
“Did you have fun fishing today?” I asked as we made the trek back to the car.
“Yes.” And we loaded everything into the trunk and headed home.
Deviled eggs are an all-time favorite. Easy to make and damn tasty to eat. But the eggs do take a bit of time to hard boil. So, while waiting, John relaxed with his iPad and I opened a beer to catch up on the news. Visions of riots and looting dominated the airwaves. Innocent people being attacked. Small, family-owned, businesses being destroyed. Genuine protests seeking progress being drowned out and overtaken by criminals seeking anarchy. I felt my tension build yet again, and my frustration grow, at the horrible sights on every channel I turned to. So much destruction. So much anger. So much hatred. I looked over at John who was captivated with touring the earth on Google Maps. His smile resonated with me as I realized that he really doesn’t understand hatred. He doesn’t understand race. He just lives in this world and he is happy with it.
“Do you know what kind of eggs we are having tonight?” I asked as I got up to start peeling.
“Yes.” The typical one-word answer but I wanted more this time.
“But what kind though?”
“Debilled.” And I was more than ok with having debilled eggs too.
I dropped John off on Sunday night. He still has school for a couple more weeks and is doing his best with virtual learning. I walked him in and said hello to everyone. As I caught up with his mom, John opened his duffle bag, took his iPad and charger, and started to go upstairs. I felt a sense of harsh reality at how fast the weekend flew by. With hardly any words he, as usual, had an impact on me and I can only hope I had an impact on him. I called to him as he was halfway upstairs. He stopped and turned. His smile resonated with me as I asked him the only question that I needed to get an answer to at that moment.
“Did you have a good weekend?” I waited, and hoped, for the typical one-word answer.
“Yes.” And his smile stuck with me as he disappeared into his room.
I can’t wait to see John’s smile again.
I can’t wait till we are all smiling again.