I forget where I had to go. I forget why I had to be there so early. As a full-time freelancer, part-time employee, former stay-at-home dad (at what point do I just label myself a career dropout?), I rarely have meetings or appointments scheduled before my morning daycare dropoff date with my son. You’d think it would stick out in my mind, but I haven’t the foggiest recollection of what took me out of the house so early that day.
What I do remember is the act of pure love that graced my early morning sendoff. The Greek’s had a word for it – agape. Selfless love. Universal love. The pure, instinctual sort you’re born familiar with but slowly become a stranger to the older, more self-centered you get. It caught me so off guard, I can’t stop thinking about it five weeks later.
I was already three steps down the stairs toward the garage when I my ears perked up. Macklin was awake, and his soft, happy-groggy coos wafted down the hall, stopping me before I could reach the door. I decided to turn around, wait for his daily sprint into the living room and force a quick hug before I left. It’d be my only chance to see him before bedtime that evening, so I took the chance. The meeting could wait.
Right on cue, Macklin raced out of his room, dragging along his most prized possession – Brown Bear, a mini plush blanket with a brown bear head sewn onto one corner. “Brownie,” as he’s now known at daycare, is Mack’s combination pacifier and safety blanket. It goes with him everywhere, usually hanging out of his mouth much like our dog carries around her favorite orange ball. (We’ve got a stockpile of both.)
Mack spotted me kneeling on the top step waiting for my hug and took a hard right turn – mid sprint – to crash into my open arms. Then, the unexpected. As Macklin stepped back to make his way to the breakfast table, he stopped, turned back and reached out his hand to offer me Brown Bear… a good luck token to take with me wherever it was I was going.
It was the first and only time he’s given it up on his own, so I don’t need to explain any further its significance. If it was hard for me to leave without first seeing him in the morning, imagine how hard it was for me to walk away with Brown Bear in my hands… soggy as he was. He’ll never remember it, but it may be the most meaningful gift he ever gives me.
As I reflect on that moment, which will stay with me crystal clear for as long as I live, I can’t help but thinking what a more enjoyable life we’d all be living if we treated each other like my two-year-old treats me. Without dipping my toe too deeply into the political pond, I see a sideline debate going on right now over the question of whether we’re born to love or born to hate. Well, I’ve seen the answer. It’s easy to get distracted by what we see on TV and social media, but the truth couldn’t be more clear. Not to me. And not to my two-year-old son.