"Oh, Dad," cried my son,
with the huge, unrestrained sobs of a five-year-old,
"Justin Borley knocked me down. <sob>
He kicked me <sob>
and called me a loser <sob>
because we lost the game."
"Does it hurt badly? Where does it hurt?
Let me give you a hug....
Justin Borley is a bad, mean boy.
A few children are like that....
I will speak with his parents....
You must not be; you must always be kind....
Though you can defend yourself."
"What does that mean?"
"You can knock his leg or arm if he tries to hit you....
There will be many, many other games....
Some you will lose,
but most, I think, you will win.
You will be a champion!".
"What kind of champion?"
"I don't know.... A baseball champion,
a chess champion, a chemist....
You're smart and strong.... You will be a winner!"
"Oh, Daddy," cried my daughter,
with the heartfelt sobs of a sixteen-year-old,
"I loved him so much,
I wanted him so much,
and now he's gone.
I'll never find anyone else to love;
I might as well be dead."
"My darling, you are so beautiful and smart,
so pretty and graceful and spirited....
The boys who love you will be as countless as the stars,
as many as the sands on the shores of Lake Michigan....
"You are like a cherry tree,
putting forth its first few delicate blossoms,
which have been blackened by a hard, late frost.
We are sad, but know --
we feel in our hearts --
that this strong young tree will grow,
that its blossoms and fruits will be many....
"I know it's hard for you to believe,
but you will find other boys to love --
not the same as him --
nothing is ever the same --
but, in their own ways, equally perfect."
"Oh, Dad," cried my son,
with the quiet sobs of a 33-year-old,
"Is this all there is: we're born, we live, we die;
our children are born, they live, they die....
How dispiriting, how terrifying ...
that this universe should be
devoid of meaning and empathy.
We walk on a cold treadmill,
day after day, year after year,
millennium after millennium....
Why suffer this torment?
Why not step down?
Why not just get off?"
"Some could answer with words about
a 'kind and loving God'....
"Fifteen billion years ago, the universe grew in seconds
from a pinhead to a radius of a trillion miles.
The supernovae, nuclear furnaces, forged the elements.
One hundred thousand years ago, homo sapiens emerged
“Your body is made up of those elements,
contains actual genes from that first homo sapiens....
"You say life's a torment.
Sometimes it is.
But I say
for every ounce of suffering
there is, in time,
an equal, exactly counterbalancing,
experience of joy.
You can play your part in this gigantic pageant,
this extravaganza of joy-sorrow --
But never doubt that your mother and I love you.
You can walk out into the sunlight,
you can smell the rose-blossoms, newly-opened,
you can let your finger be grabbed by the hand --
the incredibly tiny hand -- of a baby --
I write for a woman
who wakes sometime after noon,
who smells of light rain over dusty asphalt,
who never fully smiles,
with tired feet and hands
and eyes that watch the ground as she walks,
the mind of a busy sky on a slow afternoon,
and an art which favors the wilder reaches of quiet introspection
as I find myself at a total loss for words
So this is how the dreamer dies,
a vague and fading
recollection of the yesteryears and
the sleep sinks around the backside of the eyes
where it haunts the mind in
The vividity of living fades to grey and
all is calm, all is
And so the dreamer dies, like falling back asleep.