August 1, 2005
Today was a very special and very painful day. Today was the day that you would leave for Seattle to live with your mom in your new home on Capitol Hill. I think that it’s a good idea for you to make this move, and I will make the move along with you once my lease in Olympia is up. In the mean time, I will see you almost every weekend, and we will spend the whole weekend together when we see each other. But still it’s very hard for me to see you go.
Do you wonder why that’s hard, when I will still see you all the time anyway, and will be back living near you in a few months? Well, I wonder why too, and I think after wondering why I have a few explanations.
One is that this town, Olympia, has been your home and mine for as long as you have been alive. When I walk around town, I see places that we have spent times together, and had fun, that we will probably never go to together again. Just today, I walked through the area of Capitol Boulevard and Union. This is near where you and your mom used to live. I would take you for walks in your stroller through that area when you were very little. We would go to Wagner’s Bakery and get a muffin and share it. We’d walk around and look at the nice houses in that neighborhood, and sometimes I would wish I had enough money to buy one of those houses for us to live in. It is a big change. I think change is good, and I think this change is good for you and for me, but it’s still hard to let go of happy things, like living in Olympia with you.
Another thing that makes me sad is that I worry about you. I worry that this big change will be very hard for you, and I will be so far away that I can’t help you with it as much as I want to. I know you are a very tough little boy, and you are always OK, and that your mom will take good care of you. But because I am your father, I feel very protective of you and I want to personally ensure that you are OK. I worry that you are in a big city now and there are more dangers there, and I am not there to protect you. I am listening to a song right now, with lyrics that go like this…
“yellow hair…you are such a funny bear…it’s so hard to be in the city, because you want to say ‘hey’ to everybody.”
I wonder if you will want to say “hey” to everybody in the city.
I also feel sad because we have been spending so much time together lately, and now you are gone. I feel like a part of me is missing (I even wonder sometimes if the sadness I feel is from you being gone, or if I am just feeling the world’s sadness because you are not there to protect me from it anymore…do you understand?). I feel like you can’t possibly understand why I am not with you anymore. I know you will go on, being brave, living life and enjoying yourself. But I worry that you are having fun despite your worries. I don’t want you to do that, I want you to not have any worries. I know that isn’t realistic, but that is what I want for you.
This morning, I woke up very early with a very heavy heart because I knew it was going to be very hard to say goodbye to you. I almost just got up and left you sleeping with Lela, so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye and maybe you would be less sad if you woke up and I was gone instead of having to watch me leave. I went into the kitchen to mix a cup of juice for you or for Lela to give you when you woke up, and I heard you crying. You came walking out of the bedroom as I was walking from the kitchen to see what was wrong. You had woken up and were sad because you didn’t see me in bed next to you. I comforted you and came back to bed. You settled down and then started to play. We got up and got dressed. I told you that I was going to take you to see Terry and you started to cry. You asked for mama, and for grandma. I told you that you would stay with Terry for a little while until your mama came to pick you up. You sobbed, “ok” and then you cheered up. I was happy you felt better, but I knew that what you understood was that you were going to see mama, not that you would have to be left with Terry first. I made you some toast and we got in the car. You were smiling and singing along to Ernie and Bert, and munching on your toast. You were so happy, and I felt very guilty because I knew I was about to do something that would make you sad.
We were early, so we stopped at Bagel Brothers and got a bagel and a coffee. I figured I’d eat half of the bagel and drink the coffee for my own breakfast, then save the rest of the bagel for you to eat while you were with Terry.
We drove to Terry’s house, which is right next door to the house you and your mama were moving out of. Terry wasn’t home. I called her and she said they were at the store and on their way home. You squirmed from my arms and ran away from Terry’s over to your house. Except it wasn’t your house anymore. We went inside and everything was gone. You went upstairs to the place where your TV was, and you said “Uh-Oh, where TV?” I tried to put on a brave face, and tell you how exciting it was that you were going to have new place to play, and that your mama had taken everything to this great new place so you could have fun playing there together, and she would be back soon to take you to the wonderful new place. But you are three years old, and those words don’t make much sense to you.
Terry came home, and I carried you over to her place. You knew where you were going, and you didn’t want to go. So I had to clutch onto you very hard to keep you from running away. I handed you to Terry and she carried you inside. I walked over to the doorway and waved goodbye to you, and told you everything was OK and mama would be there soon. You were red in the face, crying and screaming. You begged me not to leave and reached your little hand out to me. I had to wave goodbye and close the door. I knew the sooner I left the sooner you would start to get used to your new surroundings and have some fun.
I felt a strange feeling wash over me as I walked to my car, like I was going to fall over or collapse. I felt like all of the life was flooding out of me. I drove out of the parking lot quickly and found a spot off the road to pull over. I started to cry very hard. I felt alone, so I called Lela on the phone. When she answered, I couldn’t even speak, I just cried into the phone.
After a few minutes, I calmed down a bit and took some deep breaths. I got off the phone with Lela and then called your mama. I left her a message asking her to please hurry up and go get you, and to please call me when she had you so I knew you weren’t unhappy anymore. I also told her I would like to come see you this Saturday morning. I needed to have a set date and time when I knew for sure I would see you again.
Then I went to work.
I was scared to go to work because I felt so sad, but it kind of cheered me up. I went with a client of mine to his first day of work, and he was so happy to be at his job that it made me happy. Later, I was helping another client with his job. He noticed I was feeling down, and asked me if I was tired. I said, “Yes, I’m very tired today.” And he said, “I’m sorry you’re tired.” I thought that was very sweet.
I spoke with your mom later and we decided I would come get you on Friday evening, and we will spend the whole weekend together! And then I went home and wrote this letter to you, which I think you will probably read sometime when you are older. Now that I’m finishing writing it, I feel like maybe I am ready to put this whole sad day behind me and get back to being your happy father again.
But here’s the funny thing: I’m very pleased to know that I can feel this strongly still. When you’re three years old, your emotions are so strong it’s almost scary, and maybe sometimes you come to wish they would just calm down. But as you get older, it gets harder and harder to really feel strongly about anything, and you start to wish you could feel more. I feel so much love for you that it makes me feel very very sad sometimes, like when you are leaving, or when you’re sad. But most of the time, it just makes me feel very very happy to love you so much. So thank you for making me feel so much.
I can’t wait for Friday evening. I hope you are very happy in your new home.