Thursday, January 12, 2017

When Michael was about four, we were driving along the access road in Grandview when he suddenly told me to stop. He wanted me to pull into the driveway of a building on the corner of 140th Street and 71. This rundown, small place with overgrown weeds, grass and trees in the yard to me looked like a place that should be bulldozed, much less somewhere I should be stopping with my little boy in tow.

But, that little boy saw something completely different. He saw a future, where one day, he told me, he’d open an Italian restaurant in that building. He talked of cleaning it all up, and having tables with umbrellas and chairs outside. As I sat in the car, with the little boy in the backseat stretching to see through the window to his dream, I remember thinking how, in that moment, I realized that anything is possible for my son.

Last week, as all of Grandview felt their homes shake and heard what sounded like bombs going off, I headed to work. When the reality of the situation was in front of me, I took out my phone (as the camera was at the office and time seemed to be of the essence that night), I started snapping photos. Through thick smoke, I tried to photograph what I was seeing happen before me, but due to the darkness, the smoke, the flames and the water and lights shining from our first responders, my photos simply didn’t amount to much.

I felt the heat, despite the freezing temperatures. I heard the sounds that were, at the time, believed to be ammunition going off inside the building. And, I saw a little boy’s dream of opening an Italian restaurant in that particular building go up in flames.

That night, I went home, wreaking of what smelled like a bonfire, and I told Michael that it was the old lawnmower building, his building, that exploded. He was sad, but only briefly and said that he’ll just have to find a different spot for his restaurant.

I realized, then, that a little fire, explosion or other things out of his control won’t stop him from opening a restaurant, becoming a baseball star or even running for President of the United States someday. The sky is the limit when you’re a kid, and that is an innocence that goes missing as we grow older.

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