Dr. D was her name, and she almost killed us.
I started bleeding towards the end of my pregnancy; I had been diagnosed with complete placenta previa and put on bedrest. In the ER the resident got me set up and then wanted to do an ultrasound. She used an ultrasound probe on a pregnant woman with a complete previa. Her face went to ghostly white as the blood seeped into the sheets below me. My doctor finally arrived and I will never forget the look she gave that resident. She almost killed us, but she didn’t.
My son and I fought long and hard. Knowing that he could come early, weeks prior, Dr. Harte had the foresight to build up his lungs with steroid injections. Each week I would go in to her office and get a straight shot of thick steroids in my butt cheek. I’d wince in pain, but rejoice in the fact that we were doing everything we could to make you strong and ready for the world. My body fought to keep that pregnancy, you fought and grew and persevered against all odds. A few short months later you were delivered by Cesarean section at 4 lbs 9 ounces. It wasn’t an easy delivery, but we both made it.
I was in my twenties when you were a baby, I didn’t know how to be a parent. Sometimes I think I’m still just muddling along trying to figure it all out. There are things I know now I should have done differently and there are so many mistakes I wish I could go back and fix. I made a lot of mistakes, too many to count. I’m still making mistakes, but through it all I’ve tried to put my pride aside (most times) and apologize when I’m wrong. Many years have gone by, we’ve been through a lot. Personal things, everyday life that everyone deals with. We’ve both had to do a lot of fighting to get to where we are now. Fighting with the world and circumstances it brings and fighting within ourselves to truly figure out who we both are and what our place in the world could possibly be.
The day after Election Day 2016 you came to me and said you wanted to leave the country. You were ready to go and I was a bit freaked out, I wasn’t ready to see you leave. I understand wanting to travel and seeing the world. This was not that. I want you to travel and experience every inch of this world but I want you to to it on YOUR terms, not on the terms people around you and what they may or may not think about the color of your skin or the countries your fathers grandparents came from. Don’t let the world change who you are and don’t run from what scares you. I spent the majority of my life running and I can tell you first hand, it is not a place you want to be. I want you to be so firmly grounded in who you are and what you want from life, that nothing, absolutely nothing will scare you enough to make you flee. Stand tall and proud as a Latin-African-American-Caucausian man and go out and use your voice, your art, your experience, to change things for the better.
In high school we had to fill out the information that would go in our yearbook next to our photos, we had to choose a quote that spoke to us, so I picked one from Jim Morrison of The Doors, “If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.”
I wanted to do that with my writing. I went into the world thinking I was going to be some amazing journalist that was going to write away the problems of the world. I worked at the local newspaper for a few years covering zoning board meetings and re-writing press releases and that dream just went by the wayside for a while. For a long while actually, and I ultimately got away from writing. I was pulled away from my art because I couldn’t stop running.
I want you to go forward this new year and do absolutely EVERYTHING that your heart calls you to do. No matter how scary or outrageous it feels or sounds. Just go out there and live your life, unapologetically. Be yourself. You’re an amazing, smart and ridiculously talented young man and the world NEEDS people like you in it now more than ever.
Promise me that you will do everything and share everything with the world. Your art is absolutely amazing, you’re far too critical of your work. Your philosophies are ages ahead of your time; you amaze me daily with the topics that keep you up at night. I want you to share yourself with the world, I implore you. The world needs absolutely everything you have to offer. Some say you’re too nice, I will agree with that, and ultimately one day it’s going to get your heart broken, but that’s ok. Take that heartbreak and make it into art. The world needs art they can relate to. The world needs nice. The world needs kind. The world needs YOU.
I don’t care what you do as a career in your life, I don’t care if you make more money than you need or just enough to stay afloat and comfortable. What matters most to me is that you do all of the things you dream of doing, you share what you have with the world in whatever way that speaks to you, that you go out and see as much of the world as possible while you’re young and that you’re happy. I want you to be happy.
You’ve been a pillar of strength since Autum 1997, fighting for everything you have. Don’t stop now. Keep fighting the good fight. Don’t let them win.
I love you, Dante. Happy Birthday.