They looked like such a lovely and loving family. Parents sitting, side by each, on a park bench while their son bounced back and forth between tree and knees, grass and lap, fence and shoulders. Fingers caressed the nape of the neck. Soft words of conversation, spoke of the day and of plans and of things to do, while touch and tone spoke of the pleasure of being together, now in the moment.
We saw them as we took the bench next to them, the only one left in the park. We'd been on our way home and decided that the day was too beautiful to not stop and spend some time in a park. I'd not brought my glasses so we, too, just sat and chatted. They noticed us notice them and, of course, they tensed. Just slightly. The little boy noticed the change and paused and looked over at us, and smiled.
We smiled and waved back.
The moment passed.
It's hard to describe moments like this. I've run through all the words I know that describe feelings and emotions but none fit quite right. I even took my phone and googled a word or two. Nope. Nope. Nope. I was about to ask Joe when he said, "That could have been us if times were different."
And it's true.
Seeing these two young men, maybe in their mid to late twenties with their young son, sitting in a park, chatting while being the centre of gravity for their son, filled me with gratitude and, not a little envy. They got what we wanted. They got what we worked for. They got the fruits of our labour.
We were only a teeny tiny part of the struggle. We marched. Had stones thrown at us. Were spit upon. Were threatened with the fires of hell and the anger of God. We lived quiet lives, openly. The road to self acceptance, then, was a painful one. We made mistakes. We hurt others. We hurt ourselves. The ideas of 'pride' and 'freedom' were not, yet, on the horizon.
But this is what we wanted.
The right to sit in a park, as a family, unafraid.
It's come to late for us.
But it's come.
When they all got up, the little boy reached up, was lifted up and carried in strong arms. They walked past us and we wished them a good day.
The little boy smiled and said, 'Thank you.'