I'm perched on a faded park bench. A band is playing Violent Femmes' cover songs. The music fills the hot and humid summer air, as the sun beams down on my shoulders. In front of me, you dance.
I watch you from my spot on the bench as you twirl -- almost effortlessly -- to the music. You spin -- your arms outstretched and open to the world around you, a contagious smile spread across your face. I smile too as you clap your hands and stomp your feet to your very own rhythm. You run in circles and squeal with delight. I watch your feet hit against the hot cement, and as the music increases in speed, so does your running and your laughter.
I want to join you on that hot cement dance floor -- just a hand's touch away. I want to be "right there" to catch if you fall. I want to be the first person to kiss a scraped up knee and wipe away any tears. I want to prevent you from possibly getting hurt, because for two years, that's what I have done. For two years that is who I was -- your protector, your comforter.
And for two years, each step you have taken, I have been right by your side -- to help you if you stumble, to hold you if your muscles tire out before your mind does. There's not a mile nor an inch that you have traveled where I haven't been at your side --prepared to soften any blow that may come your way.
I have spent two years anxiously anticipating every move you made. Part of me thrilled at the idea that you were making progress -- that you were walking and that you were running. Another part of me worried about the potential of you getting hurt, so I never moved too far away from you.
I prayed for you to be able to walk and run. I told myself that when that day came, I would cherish each step you took. I promised myself that I would never complain, like some parents do, about how "once they start walking, they just won't stop." I was okay with that. I would follow you to the ends of the Earth, cheering you on each step of the way. I still will.
But I know my place today. I am supposed to be more than an arm's reach away from you, unable to catch you if you fall this time. Today, I am not supposed to be right at your side. This dance is yours and yours alone -- each twirl, each clap, each smile and each giggle is yours. My place is on the bench.