“But the sun rolling high / Through the sapphire sky / Keeps great and small on the endless round.” – The Lion King, Circle of Life
Bee enjoyed a pool day for the first time last weekend, soaking up sunshine and watermelon and happiness. It was a beautiful day – the kind that you experience with all of your senses as you taste the sweet humidity and laugh with the breeze. There were family members and grilled vegetables and sun-dried beach towels, and we snapped a few photos to capture the magic of this perfect summer moment. And it wasn’t until we returned home that evening – smelling of chlorine and charcoal – that we realized a familiar photo in the mix…
The right photo, of course, is Bee and Ken. And the left? Ken and his father, captured on a beautiful summer day much like the one we just experienced – over thirty years ago. I’m imagining that there were family members and grilled vegetables and sun-dried beach towels – just like our perfect day – but there was one essential ingredient that was different: the presence of Ken’s father.
Bill Loechner, a man of great strength and character, passed away one year before Bee’s birth. We miss the way he laughed with his whole body – clutching his chest – as if he would collapse from a happiness overdose at any moment. We miss his leadership and guidance in our family – the way he spoke with authority and loved with respect. We miss our summer days together – the kind where, yes, we could taste the sweet humidity and laugh with the breeze.
After Ken and I finally unearthed the left photo from a buried file in his hard drive, we marveled at the similarities in our own snapshot. We might not have the man on the left, but we have the one on the right. The one who grew into his father’s perfectly-laced Ked sneakers – a man who lives with unclenched hands, ready to catch those he holds dearest.
I asked Ken what he felt when he looked at the two photos paired together side-by-side, as if they were missing pieces of a puzzle we never intended to create. And he said he felt happy, not sad. He was fulfilling the legacy his father left him – one of character and love and support. One of a firm foundation, open arms and an unmatched love for his family. (Not to mention a fabulous head of hair.)
The circle of life indeed.