Kennedy. The time came to dress him and I spied a “Fonzie-like” leather jacket in one of the bins. “That’s it there fellas. That’s all he needs; a good leather jacket.” Part of me was just trying to get out of it all easy. I had no desire whatsoever to spend time picking out some cutesy pants and shoes. On another level I couldn’t explain to them that the jacket on the fuzzy bear would serve as a symbol of my long-standing internal conflict. Half my life had been spent building barriers with leather jackets and balled up fists. Now these two cherubs were exposing my facade. I felt like I was standing on the square buck-naked during the morning rush hour.
I named the little bear Kennedy because JFK has been my hero since I was a child. I found him to be courageous in battle and loyal to his brothers in combat. He stood for the poor and disenfranchised though he was wealthy and privileged. Yes, he was something of a rascal but he rose to the job that was before him and represented much that was good about America. Then they killed him. Like so many things in life, it broke my heart, but now these children … one day at a time, heal the part of me that had been bound in a leather jacket prison for so many years.
It is early October now. The leaves are changing and beginning to fall. The boys are thirteen. This weekend on a camping trip we collided with a drunk driver that crossed the centerline. My family mostly walked away with bumps and bruises. Mom’s banged up a good bit worse. I’m afraid that we were somewhat traumatized by the event though. I’ve been dismayed at the emotional hangover that has rested heavily in my soul. I could have lost them and it is still tearing at me.