It’s 1:20 in the morning. Tomorrow I go back to my old schedule. I’ve been working nights for the past several months and it has taken a toll on me. I worked nights for years as a cop and again for years in the same psychiatric unit where I am now. I’m not 22 years old anymore and my body clock is screaming at me telling me to stop abusing it. So, after being awake all night last night, sleeping until 2pm, waking up, seeing 4 clients in the afternoon, eating dinner with the wife and another couple, everyone in my house is asleep and I sit here, deep in introspection, needing to pass 30 or 40 minutes of time that I know it will take to convince my brain that it needs to start slowing down.
An interesting thing happened tonight while we were at dinner. Everyone sat at their tables, conversing with family and friends. Waiters and restaurant staff went back and forth dealing with the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant and in the middle of it all, a loud chime went out. It was a man at a table directly behind where we were sitting. He was tapping his glass with his knife.
“Can I have everyone’s attention? Hello….Can I have everyone’s attention! I want to make a toast!”
I thought this guy was drunk, maybe he was? Regardless, the words he said stopped everyone cold.
“I want to make a toast……to my son. He leaves for Iraq this weekend.” He looks down at his son and says, “I love you son and I’m proud of you.”
A lump formed in my throat and my eyes welled up with tears. I looked at my wife and her eyes were watering. I wanted to get up and go over to this father and son, hug them both and tell them “Thank You.” Thank you to the son for serving his country and Thank you to the father for sharing that moment with us. We drift off at times, living in our own worlds, dealing with the problems of our own lives while Fathers and Mothers are telling their children good-bye like this on a regular basis. It helps to put things in perspective. My heart is heavy for this father right now and although I don’t know him, I’ll pray for his son and his safe return.
My son just woke up and in a daze, walked into my office. “Is everything ok son?”
“yeah” (in a slow voice with his eyes halfway shut)
“go back to sleep son and i’ll come in and give you a kiss before I go to sleep.”
“I love you dad” (as he turns and walks back to his bedroom)
“I love you too son.”
Several years ago my son and I got into the habit of writing letters to one another. Of course, because I live on the computer, most of my notes were typed. He would write me stories and ask me what I thought. This is my encouragement to fathers…build those moments because eventually…they will be gone and we’ll have the memories. I wanted to share one of his stories and one of my letters to him.
I’ll finish this entry with a toast to my father. I think you did a great job Dad. My son is a caring little boy with a good heart. I followed your lead and I try to do everything for him that you did with me. I’m proud to be your son.