Blogs seem so inconsequential in the real world, when young boys, doing as we would wish them to do, like play ball, or roll around in the dirt, get hurt in the process.
My neighbor Cole, a little boy who was like a second son to me, and a brother to my son, Davis, was hit a week ago in the head with a ball. Doing what he loved to do – Play ball. Cole grew up in my backyard, making his way through a path we carved out when he was four and my son two. We had no idea that years later, they would walk home from the bus on that path, that others would use it to check in on me, that the deer would trample through, that it would hold so many memories.
Though many tributes are already surfacing for Cole, I can think of nothing better than to share a piece of writing in my blogsphere from the night of vigil for Cole…
A Prayer for My Backyard Boy
You are the little boy who made nose and hand prints
on your mother’s back door,
reporting the status of our dinner – hot, cold, pasta or pork –
while through our sliding door, my son reported on yours.
You are the reason we cut a swath through cottonwood trees,
the prickly holly bushes and native vibernum,
so that you two could run freely to our home and back.
You are the freckles and smile that greeted my little boy,
mornings on the path, evenings for slip and slide,
and a few water balloon launchers and snowballs at our back door.
You stomped through the creek, picked up turtles
and loved the life that God placed in your care.
You took the hand of my little boy as a younger version of you –
though you already had two –
and loved him when he needed a place to belong.
Together, you ate pizzelles, cookies whose name you could never say,
made mud pies and built forts with branch clippings and duck tape
that caused us to curse,
though today, we would resurrect every last inch.
And now we await your movement again,
You speak but only in the actions of a simple peace sign,
a thumbs up, agitation through the night.
Though you are the one we pray for,
it is us that needs the prayers.
So tonight, we pray
while the bullfrogs bellow out into the late spring night,
and ambient light wafts over the fields,
dissolving into the glare of the news van spots.
And somewhere in the distance, neighborhoods away
where they have not yet heard of your tragedy,
children shriek and dogs bark, as it should be.
And we sing, Heal me Jesus, but this is not singing,
we are praying with our souls.
We cry because we forget
God does not weep for those whom he has chosen
to teach us lessons that surpass our grasp.
You are still that little boy who steers his bike
through the backyard, over the cedar bark path,
to your dinner table or ours –
where a plate of pizzelles awaits your return home.