It feels surreal and foreign, yet it feels mundane and everyday. At once it is rare, at once it is common. Fareed is here, right now, at nine o’clock at night, helping Elihu assemble a model airplane. Right now it feels as if he lived here with us, as if it he was here every night, having supper, wrestling on the bed with his son in a prehistoric reenactment of dinosaurs colliding, assembling an airplane of balsa wood on the kitchen table. I can’t really remember when he was last here. But I think it’s been awhile. I think. A couple months maybe, not quite sure. Sometimes, on nights like this, when Fareed is here, when Elihu is laughing and at his very happiest to have his mother and father together, it seems the greatest shame of all that Fareed does not, in fact, live here with us, his family. I know I should let this whole thing go, but still, I keep wondering why, how… How could it have come to this – where we three are not a family living under one roof but separated by a thousand miles. I know many reasons why we aren’t, but I think a small part of me will forever lament our current reality. I sigh, shake myself awake and out of my longing, and try to make friends with things as they are.
It was a very dramatic day. Fareed’s train was six hours behind schedule due to a derailment on the track. He therefore had to hop off in Cleveland, get on a plane and then be driven from Albany to our tiny town, all in time for a 6:30 curtain. Luck was with him today. I was amazed. With one logistic hitch after another, Fareed finally entered the school’s parking lot at the very same moment we did, for a bizarre but exciting reunion of father and son.
While I’d been so excited for the surprise reunion of father and son, it was not to be as Fareed had come clean to Elihu last night about his plans. However, seeing him pull up at the very same moment as we did was indeed surprising in of itself. We weren’t quite sure Fareed would even make it. But he did. And the show was sweet. Elihu had a speaking part which he nailed. He delivered it clearly and unrushed, unlike most of his classmates. Parents of his friends were there, my folks were there, my brother, my son’s father. And many of the folks in our life here got to meet Fareed, and Elihu got to see his father witness his own world, and it was good. My parents hadn’t seen Fareed for a few years – not since he revealed his new family situation and his desire for a divorce. If my father hadn’t been so frail and aged he might have been more upset. But he wasn’t. And that was good. My mom too, she seemed more comfortable seeing him than I might have guessed. Maybe time does help dull the emotional impact. I was glad to see all aspects of my son’s life happily merging together tonite.
Fareed naps right now, Elihu snuggled beside him. Any minute my brother Andrew will be here to take him to the airport, and Fareed will quietly get up, gather his things and tiptoe out of the house. Elihu will awake tomorrow morning, and his father will be gone once again. It’s made a little easier this time knowing that Easter break is right around the corner, and they’ll see each other again soon. So this time it’s not as hard.
Whatever may yet be, it’s so good to see Elihu with his dad, right here, right now.