Morning`s thin light breaks the darkness hesitantly. The infant, now in his fifth day on Earth, is dwarfed by the crib, a speck on a sea of mattress. So it seems at least to the cop who stares down intently. The Magnum revolver, the nightstick, the handcuffs, the uniform in general, seem out of place in this baby`s room. Not to the cop, of course; this is his profession, these are his tools. The baby sleeps peacefully, unaware of the contrasts in this early morning scene.
I tug at the gunbelt until the pistol rests comfortably on my hip, careful that it doesn`t block the opening to the trouser pocket. Welcome home, son. Your first night has been just fine. A single mid-morning feeding, then peaceful sleep for all of us. Son. The word generates awe, fear, panic and pride simultaneously. What do I know about being a father? In this quiet moment the responsibility begins to dawn with the morning sun. It becomes almost overwhelming. This tiny but perfect human form, so vulnerable, so dependent, so completely powerless in the world about him.
Don`t worry, son, I`ll come home. I`ll be here. Or will I? A cop in a big city, brightly marked squad, ghetto beat. Am I not also vulnerable, dependent, powerless to a degree? I won`t let anything happen, I can`t let anything happen. I will be home tonight, son. But . . . where do the dangers lie?
We`re alike, son. The future is beyond our control. We can`t foresee your repeated hospitalizations for asthma and pneumonia. The birthdays, the Christmases, your two brothers yet to come. We can`t see that cancer will take your mother from us before you`re 7. We can`t see the intense student nurse, at this very moment praying, in a chapel hundreds of miles from here. She`ll be your “second“ mom. And still a third brother. The bike, the car, the fractured skull . . . “I thought I could make it, Dad.“ Oh how vulnerable and powerless we both are, son.
But not this morning, not here in this room. I`m your father. I will protect. I will control. The Lord willing, and with extra care on my beat, I will be home tonight and every night. I`m responsible for you, son. For the first time as a police officer, I leave for work with a touch of fear for what the day holds in store. I can`t let anything happen to me. Because at this moment, neither of us realizes how fate will rule our future. The dangers, the joys, the times to laugh, the times to cry. They will come when we least expect them.