My son David graduates this Summer from College with a BFA in Musical Theater… or something like that.
Like many people, I could simply say that I am very proud of my son and his accomplishments. But if I left it there it would be a shallow lie.
Words cannot properly express the magnitude of feelings and thoughts that are running through my mind.
For example, there is the memory of when David and his twin brother Daniel were born. David was born first- a robust boy of 7.2 lbs.
Unlike his brother’s sweet cry, David had a commanding “WHAAAA!” that demanded attention. David was always the leader of the Rivera kids… or the grueling “task-master” over daddy’s little fiefdom. From early on, David had a natural ability to be goal-oriented and to get the job done.
I remember a time before preschool when he wanted to imitate the way I marked my Bible with a red pencil. I gave him my childhood Bible and had him color in all “the important words” such as “God” or “Jesus.”
My father-in-law’s passing was very stressful for my children. Samuel was very close to all three of them…But David was especially fond of his “Abuelo.” A few days after Samuel passed away, David began to whisper words as he watched TV or played. Whenever we asked him what he had said, David would look at us with bewilderment as he wondered why we asked him.
Eventually we took David to a psychiatrist to get checked. The visit with the doctor was very pleasant. David drew stick cartoons of his family… he jumped around, touched his toes and showed off his acrobatic abilities while whispering his mystery-words under his breath. At the end of the doctor’s appointment, the psychiatrist told us that there was a great chance that David was developing Tourette’s Syndrome.
That night I sat in the boy’s bedroom until sunrise. Scenes of my son’s future flashed through my imagination. I saw him uncontrollably yelling obscenities and suffering the condescending compassion of those who would steer themselves away from ever becoming his friends. I was horrified by scenes of loneliness and deprecation.
All night I prayed like Lord Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I asked God to give me his disease so that he would be healed and have a normal life. David’s mystic sentences slowly began to vanish away until they were completely gone and forgotten. For almost 18 years, my wife and I never mentioned them for fear that the Tourette’s would resurface… By the grace of God it never came back.
Not only am I proud of my son’s artistic abilities, I am proud of David’s ethical standards, his goal-mindedness, perseverance, and determined endurance in achieving his goals and dreams. Not only that, he has a deep sense of compassion for others and moral fortitude that few possess today.
Lately we’ve been connecting real nicely. I am enjoying my transition from always being the leader to becoming a counselor. Just as children must adapt to adulthood, so do adults need to adapt in seeing their children becoming adults. Its not easy…but once you get the hang of it, you’ll like it.
He’s contracted to work for a theater production in Ohio during the summer, and then he will afterwards be looking for work in NYC.
Today we bought David a new car with his name on the title. I laughingly welcomed him into the world of debtors…but the reality was that I could not be any happier to get him the shiny black car he wanted as a graduation gift.
As I was taking the picture of him proudly standing by the car, I was momentarily lost in wonderment, as my mind captured the moment in which I saw standing before me, an improved version of myself.
This transcendent consciousness transported me back to eternity when The Father also gazed at His only-begotten Son with wonderment, admiration and profound love. Today I came to understand what Lord Jesus meant when He said that: “…whoever loves the Son, will be loved by my Father.” (John 14:21)
Son, in this world I am your ally…your counselor. Nothing you tell me will ever break our bond…in fact, it can only grow stronger. I got your back.
Go for it.