Last Christmas, my aunt gave me a USB Christmas tree. It’s one of those fiber optic pieces that alternates color. My mother reminded me about it earlier in the month, so I connected it to my desk top. I rarely use the desk top these days. Occupying one USB port wasn’t going to kill me. Besides, that little tree is awesome. I was sure Shaun would love it when he came to visit. And, on the first night I had him here, I showed him and he fell in love with it. We sat in the TV room/study and played on the floor with his toys. Every so often, he got up and stood in front of the desk and stared in awe at the tree. He counted off the colors. Red. Blue. Purple. White. Yellow. Orange. His two-year old mind didn’t understand how someone my age couldn’t appreciate such wonderful work of art like he does. Baffled, he grabbed my hand and pointed to the desk. The desk only being less than a step from where I lay on the floor.
“Daddy,” he said, pointing. “Christmas tree.”
“I can see it just fine from here, Shaun. I don’t need to stand up to see it.”
His grip of my hand tightened as he tugged with his almost three-year-old strength. “Daddy,” he grunted. “Please.”
With the choked please coming from his little mouth, I got up from my spot on floor. I stood beside him in front of my desk, holding his hand in mine. He looked up at me and smile. His eyes conveyed such an emotion that my ability to describe fails me. We counted off the colors together. He reached up and touched the strands of fiber optic. I picked him up, providing him with closer inspection.
Shaun has me doing pointless things all the time. They’re pointless to the adult me. The separated me. The me-without-him. The me that lingers and lumbers about. The me long ago buried under the responsibility of fatherhood. The me that is more stranger than any other that’s come before it. The me without compassion. The me without dreams. The me that ceased existing the moment I heard the beats of my unborn son’s heart three years ago. The me that never shed a tear during movies or TV shows. These things my son has me doing aren’t pointless to the parental me. They are as meaningful to me as they are to Shaun.
When Shaun has an idea, I go with it. During out Father’s Day outing, Shaun took us down a path I was unfamiliar with. We spent an hour looking for one that would lead us out.
I love my son. He is my light. He is the reason I continue on no matter how many times I wanted to give up. For him, I give up my solitude. For him, I listen to hours of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez and that blasted gummy bear song.
My friends complain about the fathers of their children show emotional detachment, I can’t fathom it. When parents chose the church over their children, I don’t understand it.
And when a child comes out the people meant to protect and love her and is only met with disappointment and hatred, it breaks my heart. I will love my son no matter what. Through all his phases, mistakes, realizations, discoveries, decisions it will not wane. Should he, ten years down the line, discover that the body assigned to him at birth contradicts with the person trapped inside, I will support him. Because he will always be that two-year-old grasping my hand, asking me to join him to stare at a fiber optic USB Christmas tree.
It’s just a damn shame—a sin against reason and compassion, the very thing their religion proclaims to support—that Leelah Alcorn wasn’t met with the same love. The same support. No one heard her cries for help. No one was there to give her a shoulder, an open-ear, a hand to pick herself up with. No one was there to show her love. No one was there to help her through this pain.
I don’t know how to end this. There’s just so much brooding in my veins.