He missed it. Pete missed Mateo’s third birthday. I made a 3D firetruck cake that sliced easily and everything. Pete would have remembered the meltdown I had last year when the dump truck cake fell apart and Julia and I “fixed it” by throwing a bunch of broken vanilla wafers on it and creating a whole new 3D cake. “No one will know, Mommom,” she said. And they didn’t. But this year the cake worked just as planned. And the kids helped me decorate it and… Pete missed it.
And I couldn’t help but think about how Mateo being three will only know Pete from what we tell him. And although he’ll hear how Pete was beyond joy, without words at the adoption of Mateo, Mateo will never hear Pete tell him about how adopting a baby was a dream come true for him. He’ll never hear Pete talk about his hope for a world that loves one another, across racial and ethnic, social and economic barriers. He’ll never hear Pete talk about camping out at the Washington Monument and being jarred into adulthood when armed military personnel monitored their peaceful protest.
He won’t hear Pete talk about; he will hear us talk about it. But it’s not the same. Pete is missing out on life. And Mateo is missing out on life with Pete.
Pete missed Charlottesville too. And this was when I realized it wasn’t just that Pete was missing out but that “we” were missing out on experiencing life together. I didn’t miss out on this past weekend’s events. I am not missing out on trying to figure out what kind of world I live in now. I am in the thick of it but my partner and best friend is not here with me and so I’m missing being part of a “We.”
I can’t help but think if I were a “We” still, I would have had a thoughtful, fruitful conversation about race and violence, militia and the first amendment. If I were still a “We,” I would have gained a historical perspective that I have grown to assume is readily available to me. And now I am grasping for the questions to ask other that would get me somewhere near that conversation that would be happening in Pete’s head. I want to be part of that conversation and I used to be part of that conversation – every day, but especially when horrible things happened.
Pete and I loved to talk to one another. About anything. Neither of us danced on the surface of life. We loved the conversation about what makes life worth calling it life. And so when people walked into the University of Virginia wearing khakis and carrying torches, I don’t want to search the internet for good journalism, I want to ask Pete what he sees and what he thinks. I want to lay in bed with him, my arms wrapped around him, his arms wrapped around me. I want the two of us to shed tears together for a country we love but no longer recognize. I want the two of us to pray fragments like,
Dear God, what is happening?
Dear God, we are sorry - for our part - implicit and complicit.
Dear God, what the hell is happening?
Together, our prayers were never "put together." They were honest and vulnerable. They spoke of our sinful nature and how we were at a loss as to what to do next. And now I am left with my own prayers; there is no "we" anymore, just “me.” And it’s so much less than “we.”
And so it’s not that “he” missed Mateo’s birthday or “he” missed Charlottesville, “we” did. We missed it. And “We” are going to miss a lot of things.