To My Imaginary Child,
Today I show you the beauty of the world. I hold your small hand as we walk through. Into the thick forests with the piano birds, the casual breeze on our bright faces, the rush and snap of the branches above us, blackbirds and cardinals rush forth to greet as you point with your little fingers, trying to keep track as you gesture at the blue sky, the clouds above us paintings.
Your family has been here since the 1640s. You come from laborers and farmers. Always be true to them. Your mother and I raise you with kindness, no racism, no hatred that you find too common among us today. It is too easy to dislike a stranger that you don’t even know. We raise you to be better.
The truth: I don’t get to do the math homework with you. I don’t get to see you play sports. I yearn for the giddy laughter that I will never hear and the refrigerator door remains bare. I won’t get to sing off-key with you or tell you fabulous stories that open your eyes to the possibilities. I won’t get to heal you through times of sick or celebrate those days that were made for you.
We walk through the world together. You grow to be a good person and have your own life. Your mother and I visit you on the holidays and spend hours on the phone with you when something goes awry. We’ll be there for you and you’ll be there for us. We worry about you every day just because we can and love you every day because we do. And we will worry for when we’re gone, and our frail world descends into heat and ash.
We celebrate your love, no matter who it is with. Build our family strong, a bunker from the harshness and tragedies of this world. The two of us follow your adventures in the world through picture and phone, at least one or two visits per year when you live far away. We cry with you and for you, something you won’t understand until our roles have changed, until you discover in time what it’s like to have your own imaginary child.
Bad things will happen. They always do and we will struggle through. Run hard through the world before it catches you. Slow down when you arrive where you choose.
I miss you. How can that be possible? Even though you are imaginary, you are not.
Someday maybe we will meet. I’ll wave to you and wait for you to wave back.
May your days always shine gold, my child.
About the Author: Ron Burch's fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi Review, New World Writing, PANK, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Bliss Inc., was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles.