Why am I here? Earlier in my life I know I was decidedly more self-focused and driven towards personal achievements. But what does that have to do with why I'm here, and what would be my life's great achievement be, if any?
This week marks the 13th birthday of my wonderful son, Cassius O'Brien.
I always assumed I would have a child, probably a girl, and though I knew nothing about being a father from personal experience and not really recalling many details from my own, I still wanted to join that club. In the spring of 1999, my wife Elizabeth and I walked out of an ultrasound appointment in NYC dizzy, as 'Lilly' was suddenly, actually a boy. After a few days of processing that, I was ready for our
little boy to join the world.
We settled on the name 'Cassius Liam', an appropriately historical, pugilistic and even Gaelic-sounding moniker. Cassius changed my world, of course added stress to my carefree, childless time, stole large chunks of my wife's attention but made up for that by being an early smiler, and a happy child.
Cassius saved me. He put away in me, a deep childhood-born sadness. Also quite remarkably, I watched Elizabeth flourish as a mother and marveled at her natural parenting abilities. I took guidance from her ways with him and soon found myself a more patient and loving father than I think I was destined to be.
Cassius learned the joys of humor, of being silly, of funny sounds, faces, and words. He had a deep and extensive make-believe world and Elizabeth played with him and his action figures for hours and hours. We developed routines and places we traveled to and charted the growth of our lovely son year after year.
In more challenging times in the past 13 years, Cassius was there to give me focus, perspective and even in recent years, his warm friendship. As I said, Cassius saved me again and again and thankfully, I don't think he's ever been burdened with that knowledge.
In the past few years our boy had put the action figures aside. He suddenly noticed girls, music, became an honor student and is now a growing new teenager.
I'm a fortunate man to have Cassius in my life.
Here are just a few moments and images from a most excellent child.