18 April 2020

Dear Gus,

Two nights in a row now, we have stayed up late, way past the arbitrary bedtime that your mom and I set for you a while back because we were looking for some peace and quiet at the end of a long day. We’ve rolled back this bedtime requirement in recent days, and now you and I are ending our evenings by squeezing on to your twin-sized bed, the dog in between us, each of us reading our own books.

We occasionally interrupt each other. Mostly, to be honest, it’s you interrupting me with something to share from your book. You’re reading The Last Kids on Earth series right now, and you’re finding it quite hilarious, and you simply have to read me little snippets. I am meant to laugh at these, and I do, even though you’re reading them to me completely out of context and I don’t understand all of the jokes.

We chuckle. Then you return to your book and I return to mine. And this is what we do for an hour or two, until you roll over on to your side and face the wall, and I reach the end of my chapter and realize that your breathing is heavy and your index finger marks the page where your attention finally gave out, and your eyes, weighed down by the hours of riding bikes and baking cakes and jumping on trampolines, at long last have grown too heavy to defy gravity.

You sleep and I sing “Amazing Grace” just as I’ve done since you were an infant. Your eyes flutter open when we get to the part where we’re “bright shining as the sun” because anything about the solar system will rouse you. You smile and pretend that you weren’t asleep, but I know better, and so do you, and you can’t fool me, but you’re not really trying to, so what does it really matter?

I kiss your cheek. I say goodnight. But you’re long gone again, off on some dream adventure, and I’m not invited.

The dishwasher downstairs finishes its cycle; the wind blows raindrops off the tree outside your window, and they land against your window and on the deck far below. Then, the world is hushed and quiet for a moment, save for one boy’s breath, deep and rhythmic.

Goodnight, Gus. Enjoy your adventures.

Love,

Dad.

Photo by Dollar Gill / Unsplash