Wednesday was my son's birthday -- and it has me thinking about three other little boys. I never got the chance to meet them in person, but they cross my mind a lot.
Manav Romesh's last words brought me to tears. I came across them, scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk outside his townhouse.
"Manav Romesh was here (2002) You archeologists I hope you find this in the future".
They never will. Manav was killed by a drunk driver just hours after those chalk words were written. I showed up & found his neighbor covering them with plastic wrap, trying to protect them from washing away in the cold February rain that had started to fall.
Edgar Antonio Rodriguez-Perez's house is the saddest place I have ever been.
He lived with his single mother in a broken down trailer park. Inside, there were no lights - just two votive candles fighting against the darkness that hung over everything. It was raining (again), and I felt ashamed to be there.
Through a translator, his mother told me that Edgar was late for dinner. She looked outside & saw him lying face down behind another trailer. She thought he was sleeping. He'd been inhaling propane. I'll never forget that little cross she made out of two boards & marker.
Tucker Smith. What a great kid. I will forever see him in that picture his parents allowed me to photograph, with his tousled blond hair & spiffy blue blazer, all dressed up. Like my son, he loved to run & play around ... and could sometimes get into a little mischief. The family was on a postcard-perfect vacation to an old inn in Maine. On the day they were checking out, the kids were restless -- running around while mom & dad were trying to gather all the bags & papers to check out. Tucker got trapped between the doors of an old elevator. While his sister ran for help, someone on the second floor pushed the call button -- and dragged Tucker to his death.
If there is a god, I'd like to believe he /she has a special in heaven for little boys.
A place where they live on so much longer than the chalk dust of their short existence. A place where there is perfect weather, no homework, and an endless supply of video games.
I am lucky today. My son has made it to another year -- healthy, happy, safe.
My silent birthday wish is that I am fortunate enough to see him blow out the candles year after year after year.