I have just come home, and Eli runs up to me. “Dad, I left you a Boxcar Children book on your nightstand. It’s your Easter present.”
“Thank you,” I say. He turns back toward where he has been playing. “Eli,” I say. “Where’s my hug?”
He smiles, and walks back in my direction, slowly now. “I don’t know,” he says, “but I’ll bet it’s on it’s way.” He wraps his arms around me. “Here it is!” I squeeze him tight, my little boy who is normally so shy. I wonder what raced through his little boy’s heart when he thought about me, and decided to give me a book. It dawns on me that just as I think about them all the time when I am away, they must think about me. I squeeze Eli harder, trying to press into his flesh all the love he will ever need, while there is still time, while he is still a boy and the sun is still shining. Then he is off to his little boy games again, and I am standing alone. My grown man’s heart is thumping, thoroughly in love with this boy, with all of them.