The word “heart” has always held a special sway over me. I’m pretty sure it started when I wrote about Robbie for Esquire all those years ago when he was 7 and I was only 42. It appears nine times in that story, but it’s the last mention that says it all:
Perhaps the only thing we neglected to consider at the time was your heart. Which reminds me of sandcastles. A few summers ago, you and I built a beauty on Uncle Stephen’s beach, and you wanted to surround it with a moat, so we started to dig a hole with your big yellow bucket. We kept digging faster and faster until the hole got so deep that you jumped in.“Daddy, get the water,” you said, and I ran into the waves, filled the bucket, dragged it back, and dumped it into the hole. The sand quickly drank it up, so I kept going back and forth, trying to fill the hole with water, but it was like pouring the water down a drain, and after a while we finally said the hell with it and ran into the ocean. You are the sand, little boy, and I will always be the water.
That’s a lot of fuckin’ heart, but at the time, mine was overflowing with love. And from that day on, anytime I heard the word, I’d immediately picture sandcastles and think of Rob.
We’re coming up on a year since he passed and broke my heart forever, and I can barely see where the sandcastles once stood. They’ve been washed away by the winds and the tides, leaving me alone on the shore staring out into the ocean.
I am now the sand, little boy, and you will always be the water.