May 5th, 2012
My kids wouldn’t let me sleep last night. I kept them busy all afternoon and evening but yet they still were very hyper.
I picked Nico up from school at 2:00 o’clock P.M. and decided I would take them for a road trip to Broward County. Its not too far of a drive. I am just one county over to the north. I just didn’t feel like going home and falling in to the same routine. I wanted to stimulate the boys so that maybe they would sleep later that night. Honestly, maybe we all could get some sleep that night. It’s hard to get motivated in life when you are sleep deprived.
Nico’s class gets out 10 minutes earlier then the rest of the school. Since he was a premature baby he has had a bit of a learning delay with speech. The State of Florida placed him in a program called Early Steps. It’s a great program and it allows him to catch up to the rest of his peers academically so that by the time he reaches school age he is better prepared to be taught and keep up. Hence the name, Early Steps.
As usual I am running late.
“Shit it’s 1:44 P.M”, I say to myself with frustration because everyday I promise myself that I’ll get there early and everyday I screw it up.
“Well, it’s only a 2 minute drive”, I try to justify to myself.
I take the short drive down long roads that could substitute as drag racing strips for young teenagers and race cars. Although I keep in mind not to speed. My potential tardiness to pick-up my son from school compels me to press the gas pedal a little further then I intend to. Keeping in mind I am a cop, I ease the pedal back to decelerate. That thought and the on coming octagon shaped red sign that quite clearly reads “STOP”. I try not to feel rushed but damn I have been a mess lately. I have been tardy more then once.
“I don‘t want to end up in the principals office”, I chuckle to myself.
Wouldn’t you know it, as I wait for the traffic to thin out so I can cross the opposing lanes and proceed forward in my mini-van another car turns in front of me driving in the same direction I will be traveling.
“Ugh.”, I think “So annoying, I bet they‘ll actually do the speed limit.”
I shake my head and glance my eyes upwards at my review mirror to check on my other son who is strapped snuggly in his car seat watching a movie on the portable DVD. “Like they don’t get enough TV at home” I say under my breath. I’m just in a shitty mood.
As I come to the last opposing STOP sign on my quest for lateness, another car, an SUV, is blocking the road. I apply my brakes and my vehicle slows to a crawl. I bite my lip resisting the urge to blow my horn.
“People have been shot for lesser things in road rage incidents “, I say out loud to my son who is oblivious to what’s going on in the outside world unless its framed in a seven-inch TV monitor.
The driver slowly pulls the large SUV forward hardly making a dent on the forward progress. People who are walking on the sidewalk to pick-up their children are going faster then that 6 cylinder car.
The inept driver finally begins the turn to the pick-up line and in my frustration I drive my vehicle to the inside lane of the SUV. Like any good coward I lay my hand on the car horn and press it as hard as I can as I pass the gas guzzler.
Finally I arrive to pick up Nico.
Nico is the last child to be picked up. The teacher and my son are standing under a tree for refuge on a hot sunny day. I immediately place my van in park and exit the child station wagon to grab him. As I approach, his teacher has a friendly smile on her face. If you can see beyond her grin you can also tell she has the “asshole” look in her eyes.
“I am so sorry I’m late.”, I said, half of the smile sincere the other thumbing my nose at the system.
“Oh, your okay. Being late isn’t that big of a deal, your sons a joy.” Ms. Smith says 100% insincere.
I bow my head and divert my eye contact. I immediately submit to her authority. I take Nico by his hand and we walk back to the van defeated.
“Okay guys road trip! Long drive to Broward stay buckled in.”
My real translation, “ I can’t figure out what else to today and I don’t want to go home so lets go kill some time on an hour drive.
While the kids day dream by gazing out the mini-vans windows watching the traffic pass us by on our highway of broken dreams. I remain in deep thought with a myriad of thoughts going on in my mind. Strangely enough this is the best time for me to contemplate life’s trail and tribulations because it is the only time I have to myself which might explain why I have been taking long road trips lately.
“I am so tired"- my thought process begins. “I want things to get better now. No not now. I wanted it better yesterday. I look too far beyond what is in front of me. I should be concentrating on what’s going on in my life in this moment but I can’t.
I don’t want to go through the bad to get to the good. I wish this was like American Idol and become instantly better rather than earn it. I just got to make it through this and heal. It’s easier said then done - my mind wanders as the lines in the road curve with the contours of the asphalt.
"Life is cruel and you have to suffer in order to get stronger. Which is bullshit. Its not like I’m a struggling artist sacrificing for my craft. Good things are suppose to happen to good people. I must be a pretty bad guy. Life is hard but it should be compromising.
Its give and take and I have never asked why so much as been taken with so little given back. But I am asking now. Why? Why? Maybe I should fear God more then I already do. I need to protect my children. If I don’t believe in God deeper within myself will my children be punished? Maybe church is the answer? So much is going on with me. I need to do things right for my children but damn it I’m tired of being kicked when I’m down. I need to get back to good.”
I’m getting closer to the park and my concentration refocuses on the traffic that I am about to encounter as my vehicle exits the highway. My van comes to a stop at the red light and I focus on my sons’ faces that are reflecting back at me in the mirror. I see their mother in their faces.
I study their hairlines and features. They remind me of their mom, as her ghostly features dances upon them. Their little lips form big smiles on their face as the movie they are watching plays in the background. Their giggles pierce through my hard exterior like an ax and I can not help but smile back.
“HONK”, the driver behind me blares his horn showing they meant business and wasn't the coward I was just an hour ago.
“Shit”, I wave my hand as to say sorry and proceed through the green light at a high rate of speed.
The blaring of the horn scares something in me causing a reaction of fear it seems and my gas pedal will take the brunt of it as I stomp down and put the pedal to the metal.
I pull my van through the gates of the park. I make a quick left and begin to look for a parking spot. It wasn’t too hard to locate one. By the looks of it the playground isn’t too crowded. It’s a very nice park. It has to be or I must be pretty desperate to drive 50 miles just to go there. I vote for desperate.
The great thing about the play area is the entire circumferences has a fence around it. Extending high above the swings and slides within the circumference is a blue mesh that shields the hot Florida sun from the children playing. It’s the perfect place to play for everyone but my kids who quickly get bored.
I try to entertain my boys as much as I can while their at the park. It’s good and it’s bad. Good because they love it. Their laughter brings me joy. Bad because they expect it always. I am so tired. My body feels drained of all the energy reserves it once had.
My muscular exterior turning into a shell of its former self. I went from months of not having fast food like McDonald's and KFC, to having it everyday. I need my reserved energy but I am on adrenaline now. Its hard for me to keep up with them because I am so fatigued. My dog and pony show isn’t good enough for my boys and they are bored with the park. They make the great escape through the closed gates before I can reach them.
The park has a large playing area. The wide open field is large enough to fly kites or lay under the rays of the sun and have a picnic or play ball. It’s a weekday so the boys are running free like wild horses. I give chase but not too hard since there is really no place for them to go. As they reach the walking path they slow up and actually wait for dad to catch up.
The pace turns to a slow walk. The boys are ahead of me enabling me to watch them. From a short distance It gives me a little peace to myself was we walk. I reach for my iPhone and put on some music. Something to listen to as we do our leisurely stroll.
The boys run and they stop to look at nature. I continue my pace far enough to observe them but close enough to catch them if the run off. I scroll through my music looking for something soothing to calm my thoughts. We walk to the dead end of the park. The boys decided to stop and watch a squirrel as it approaches them suspecting they may have food.
This squirrel is clearly park broken or has been taking lessons from Yogi the Bear.
I decide to stop my walk and sit under a pavilion to watch the boys and listen to my music blaring from the bottom speaker. It is so quite out, other then the voice of mother nature echoing off the tin roof of the rectangular pavilion I can hear the music clearly.
The shuffle feature on the phone has been going from song to song but I would manually go forward to the next song from time to time if I didn’t find my inspiration. As I proceed to forward my sixth song I suddenly stop. There’s a pause. It’s the song I played for my wife at her funeral right before I was to do her eulogy.
My first reaction is to fast forward it.
I feel the muscles and tendons working together through my thumb to apply pressure to the tempered glass so that the heat transfer from my body would fast forward to the next song. But I don’t. My kids are playing together and it has captivated me. It’s like she’s here. I don’t dare change it now. I just watch as the songs intro ends and the lyrics start.
“This time, This place
Too long, Too late
Who was I to make you wait
Just one chance...
The song plays and I stare at my sons. My mind reverts back to the day I found my wife in the state of everlasting sleep. I block it out. The song plays.
...Just one breath
Just in case there's just one left
'Cause you know,
you know, you know...
I watch Nico run towards the trees as his little brother chases him. Nico looks back at him and laughs. The song reaches to the chorus.
...That I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long...
Christopher is eager to catch him and his giggle ups an octane with delight. I have to use them to move past this. I get lost in the music for a second.
...I keep dreaming you'll be with me
and you'll never go
Stop breathing if
I don't see you anymore...
Their joy, their laughter is beautiful. As beautiful as Mimie’s soul. She has to be here witnessing this. The laughter and this song. Shes here with us. She has to be.
...On my knees, I'll ask
Last chance for one last dance
'Cause with you, I'd withstand
All of hell to hold your hand
I'd give it all...
I watch and my eyes well up in tears. The song always gets me as it leads up to the chorus. It’s the same song that Mimie used to think of when we lost our twin girls, Sophia and Gabriella, so tragically in October of 2006.
...I'd give for us
Give anything but I won't give up
'Cause you know,
you know, you know...
I wipe the tears from my eyes. I feel so tired. The boys stop chasing one and other. I can see from a distance they are bonding as brothers should. Their bond is growing into something that only siblings can understand.
...That I love you, I have loved you all along
And I miss you, been far away for far too long
I keep dreaming you'll be with me and you?ll never go
Stop breathing if I don't see you anymore...
Christopher turns to walk away and falls. He tripped over air. I laugh within myself. Nico then bends over and helps him up from the ground. They laugh. Such beautiful laughter that I hope finds it’s way up to heaven. Just as I hope this music flows to her as it eminents from my iPhone.
...So far away
Been far away for far too long
So far away
Been far away for far too long
But you know, you know, you know...
A couple on a stroll begin to approach me on the path my boys were on that will lead them right passed my pavilion. I wipe the tears from my eyes and look down directly at my iPhone rudely ignoring them as they go by. My peripheral vision witnesses them move away from me and I glance up. My boys are standing at the foot of a tree. Nico is on one side, Christopher is on the other.
I wanted you to stay
'Cause I needed
I need to hear you say
That I love you...
They are using the tree as a shield to block each other from view sort of like hide and seek. I wish life was as innocent as two children playing a game of cat and mouse. My heart feels heavy for them. Their innocence lost but they don’t know it yet. The song is about to end. I just watch my boys.
....I have loved you all along
And I forgive you
For being away for far too long
So keep breathing
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore
I look up at the rusty tin ceiling and let out a sigh. I shake me head still in disbelief that my world has changed over night.
“People go through this all the time, suck it up”, I think to myself. “Toughen up. Be a man about it and take care of your responsibilities.” The song has me lost in the moment.
...Hold on to me and, never let me go
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore
Hold on to me and, never let me go...
I revert my attention to my boys as they start walking towards me. Its amazing they are side by side talking. Its gibberish but they understand it. They have to be because it seems like a very engrossing conversation. I glance back at my iPhone as the Knickelback song ends.
Hold on to me and, never let me go
Hold on to me and, never let me go”
I can not believe I am going through this. It fucking sucks and I am angry. I close my eyes and suck in my anger. I then take a deep breath in as my boys laughter reaches me through the echo of the tin roof.
“Are your two having fun?” I ask, masking my pain and hurt. I smile at my boys as Nico approaches me. I bend over and pick him up. Not to be out done. Christopher feeling jealous for my attention runs up and I scoop him up with my other arm.
“My boys”, I say with a smile, “You’re my boys. Lets go home.”
I smile thinking I did my job for the day.
“By the time I get home they will be so tired, they’ll be begging me to put them in bed”, I think.
It doesn’t pay to think some times because they are still up and its almost eleven o'clock at night. They are hyper and won’t sleep. I take it as a sign that they had a good day and they don't want it to end. My physical strength may be waning but my inner strength is what keeps me going. Time to put my foot down.
“Okay boys that’s it. Time for bed. Don’t laugh at me. I am so serious.”
-We miss you mom-
"Far Away" lyrics written by Chad Kroeger, Nickelback
Christopher Fusaro. The author of Captain Imperfecto.
© copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
Also see us at www.captainimperfecto.com