I had every intention of meeting his bus at school so that I might video tape his arrival. But he protested vehemently, and my wife finally dissuaded me, especially given that in my pride I had already posted his naked baby butt on yesterday.
So, in lieu of an original post, I’ll just post the conversation I had with him on last evening. Because I don’t speak well off the cuff—I end up leaving out all the most important points—I always have to write things down.
Son, I need to speak to you briefly before the morning. I just wanted to take the time to try to be a blessing to you because whether you know it or not, you have indeed been a tremendous blessing to me in ways that you could not even imagine.
But allow me to begin by sharing with you what I believe to be the keys to a happy, successful life based on my experience: Love yourself, and in everything you do, try to be a blessing to someone each and every day. Allow me please to explain.
Believe it or not, I have not always loved myself. I cannot explain to you how difficult it is to grow up surrounded by blight, by baneful wretchedness, and not internalize it.
My mother loved me. My grandmother loved me. And they held me tight to their bosom even into my adulthood. But for some reason, they never quite taught me to love myself.
And for a period during my early adulthood, my actions, my demeanor, reflected this lack of self-love. I used people and allowed myself to be used. I did many horrible things and put myself in horrible situations that could have, that perhaps should have, lead to jail or even greater still, death.
To this day, I wonder why I was spared. To this day, I sometimes awake at night expecting someone, something, to come pull me from my bed and force me to answer for my past.
And I did not begin to love myself until I met your mother. She had it together. So was so beautiful, so intelligent that I could not believe that she would even be fooled up with me. But she brought out the best in me. She showed me my gifts and talents, but most importantly, she believed in my gifts and talents. And with a loving, caring hand, she gently pushed me, cajoled me to put them to good use.
She made me want to be a better man. And just because she loved me, I began to love myself. When you settle down and seriously begin to consider a mate, find someone who loves you and believes in you as much as you love and believe in yourself.
And then came you and your sister. You can’t imagine how much time and effort me and your mother put in naming the two of you. We finally settled on Asa for you, meaning healer or better still, God’s perfect physician. And for your sister, after much debate we chose Aja, meaning life.
This should be the end of the story. This should be the “happily ever after” part, but it didn’t happen that way.
I took a look at your mother, and I looked at your older brother and sister. And I took a look at you and your sister, and the few material things I had amassed at that point. And I said to myself, look at what I have created. How absolutely great I am.
My self-love hardened to arrogance. I began to bully people. I began to purposely hurt people, I began to draw people in only to shove them violently away. And at the very height of my arrogance, we found out about the impending birth of your brother.
Your mother and I put as much care and effort in naming him as we had you and your sister. However, when the time came, I arrogantly insisted, against your mother’s wishes and my own heart, that his first name be Aedan, meaning fiery one, and for his middle name I chose none other than my own.
This was not the name your mother and I agreed upon; this was not the name we were given for him. It was a name growing out of my arrogance. It was a name meant to say to the world, “Indeed, look what I’ve created. I am great.”
At that time I learned the price of arrogance. You know the rest of the tragic story from here; the following day your brother died.
And in the days of overwhelming crushing grief that followed, I thought I would hate myself even more. I thought I would never forgive myself, my arrogance. But miraculously, when I could finally look at myself in the mirror again, I loved myself even more. However, I did so with the realization that the gifts I was given, the blessings I was given, were not mine to have and use as I so wish, but emanated from someone, something much greater than I could ever even imagine myself to be and were to be used accordingly.
So this is the charge I give you today, son. This is what I ask of you; this is all I’ll ever ask of you. As you enter into manhood, love yourself, but at all times, in all things, endeavor to use your gifts, your talents, to be a blessing to somebody. But in doing so remember this as well: I’ll always love you even more than you can love yourself.