Dulce et Decorum Est



It was only fitting that it was on my father’s birthday – his third since his passing – that I first felt actually capable of being a father myself.

More accurately, it was the first time I felt NEEDED by my son. That’s not as self-effacing as it may sound – he’s only 20 months old, so I know he needs me A LOT. He needs me to pick him up, to change his diaper, to dress him, to feed him and on and on. But my wife – his mother – can do those things too, and more importantly, she’s historically been able to do things I haven’t. Things like carry him to term, give birth to him, feed him her milk for the first 11 months of his life. You know – those kinds of things.

But on June 14th, the day my dad would have turned 69 years old had he not passed away in 2014, just a month after his 66th birthday, something happened that made me feel not only his presence, but also his presence in how I was able to provide something my son needed in that moment. Something that no one else could provide and something that I, as his father, was particularly suited to provide.

There was a thunderstorm in Chicago in the afternoon of June 14, 2017. A thunderstorm that scared my son, so much so that he burrowed into my side, trembled along with the thunder’s rumbles and needed an extra-long cuddle before I put him to bed. During that cuddle, I showed him a picture of my dad – his Popieux, who he’ll never meet in person – and cried a little myself as I explained who he was, why i loved him and how much Popieux loved his Boogie, even though they’ve never met. And will never meet.

I don’t know if I really believe that’s true. But it felt good to say and – in that moment, with father and son lying together on the bed, with thunder rumbling and lightning flashing, with the iPhone image of my dad in my hand – it felt like it could be true.

It was sweet, in that moment, to be a dad who could comfort his son. And it was fitting that the one doing the comforting needed so badly to be comforted himself – sitting there, fighting back tears on that sad, stormy day, sharing images and memories of the man who could have provided him that comfort.

Dulce et decorum est.

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