Last night Atticus fell asleep, sitting upright, just as we were ready to leave Disneyland. Zane was already sleeping in the stroller. My wife and sister were lost beyond a sea of people, waiting for coffee and justifying caramel apples.
I stood with my mother and my two sleeping children and 60,000 people that I had never met. Except they were not standing. They were moving as one. A giant wave of wheels and balloons, hitting upon my ankles and lingering across my shore. It carried us from where we waited and melted us into its masses.
I picked up a sleeping three year old and I started walking. It is not far from the gates of Disneyland to the door of our hotel. It is a nice stroll on any given afternoon, with your strength intact and room to breathe in.
It is further at the end of the night, after 12 hours of non-stop walking and playing, joy and frustration. It is unreachable when smothered with exhaustion and your load is heavy.
I carried Atticus over a quarter of a mile. Forty pounds wrapped around my weakened frame. His sleep was sound. My back was killing me.
As were my feet, and my arms, and my head. Yet, I did not falter, for I knew that this walk would be the last embrace between a father and his three-year-old son.
In the morning he would wake up four, and even heavier to carry.
Birthdays are bittersweet, and as ready as I was, I was unprepared.
Happy Birthday, Atticus. Let’s take this year a little slower.