Today my amazing and beautiful son turns ten. In the twelve years in which I have been married to Michele, we have moved halfway across the country, lost friends and gained new ones, traveled thousands of miles by plane, train, and automobile, took a big boat and decided never to do that again, buried cats and adopted more. We’ve laughed and cried, we’ve snuggled under blankets for warmth while laying in rooms so cold that we could see our breath. We have had to flee our new house at three in the morning because the fleas in the carpet all came out at once to attack us. And, throughout the vast majority of the time, we had our son right next to us.
Elijah is the most important thing in my life, and watching him grow has been such an insanely beautiful experience. Seeing how his mind and body has grown, witnessing the slow process that has brought him from this tiny thing that I could hold in my arms to the strong young man that he is now, has been the absolute joy of my life. When I look at my son, I see not only an almost alchemical distillation of Michele and I, but the ways in which he is so remarkably his own person. I feel so honored to be able to watch that person come into being. To be allowed to witness his evolution from a kick and fluttering heartbeat in my wife’s uterus, to the strong-willed and independent young man that he is. To watch as he educates himself, and learns the ways of the world.
Right now, my parents are in town. Tonight, all of us are going to go out to eat dinner. At that table, there will be three generations of Parham men. It is a thing that doesn’t get to happen much these days, and it is also something that might not get to happen much longer. But, today, the day that my son begins the process of coming out of childhood, my father and I can sit with our wives, those strong and fierce women that have supported us and given us the gift of fatherhood. All of us can sit, and break bread and witness someone who is gathering up the knowledge to build on the ground that we have won for him. We get to watch this beautiful boy gain the strength to climb across the ridge to see what waits for him in the next valley.
It is so strange to have been a part of this wild ride. It is a thing that I almost can’t believe is happening. But, every day Elijah wakes up and hugs me, and I know that I am involved in something magic.