imageWhen we get to a certain age we are told that the trappings of youth are nothing more than fantasy.  The belief in magic, fairies, monsters and Super heroes – things every child believes in at some point, ebb away with the steady flow of reality each passing year.  As we approach adulthood those innocent beliefs of childhood are replaced with the acceptance that “The real world” contains none of these things.  Magic:  merely an illusion.  Fairies: mythical creatures conjured by the human imagination – and existing only there.  Monsters: the only “real” ones are labels we place on the most abhorrent of humans.  Super heroes:  Colorful characters who wear their underwear on the outside who possess powers that are physically unattainable.  All of these things represent our desire for something more from a world that seems to take more than it gives as we age.  The older we get, the more we realize that reality can be rather mundane and dull  when compared to the future our innocent, youthful, selves imagined.

I remember a conversation I had with one of my cousins when I was about 8 or 9 years old, talking about Super Heroes.  I was on the precipice of the age in which I began to realize that they could not exist.  We talked, at length, over the improbability that a “real”  Super Hero could ever exist… yet through all of this, in brazen defiance of what I my 8 year old self knew to be true, I told her that I thought one day I was going to be a real life super hero.  I was convinced that somehow, some way, I would find a way to bend the laws of physics and I would become a Super hero that would change the world.  My 8 year old self truly believed that this was going to happen; to hell with reality!  I find it odd that I remember that conversation so vividly, yet here  I am, 30 years later, and I can still see my cousin laying next to me listening to me and agreeing with me.  I think the reason I remember it so well is because I never stopped believing it was possible…

I remember standing in the waiting room of the ER when the ambulance brought Rees in.  I was alone, pacing like an animal, waiting for Samantha to arrive.  The room felt like a prison that confined me within the walls of a nightmare from which I could not escape.  I remember thinking to myself that perhaps this was that moment… this was the time where I could break those laws and defy the space time continuum and reverse my chronological course.  I truly believed that if I concentrated hard enough I could will time itself to retreat and give myself the opportunity to save my little Rees.  I vividly recall tightening my face into a grimace and balling my fists so much that I could feel the blood rushing through my head.  I hoped, beyond reason, that the energy I released would tear the fabric of reality and restore my little boy.  If ever there was a time I could be a Super Hero, it was at that moment, at that time.  I screamed to muster as much “power” as I could and opened my eyes; hoping to find myself back in my driveway with a chance to tell my friend “I’ll watch him”… only to find myself still trapped in that room with the walls drawing ever closer.  All hope was gone.  My little boy wasn’t the only person to die that day, as my failure confirmed the death of the dreams of my 8 year old self.  I was human after all.  No miracles.  No magic.  No waking up from this nightmare.  Super heroes do not exist – they can’t, because if they did my little boy would be in my arms, alive and well.  Rees’ death killed my last vestige of childhood.  Wonder, hope, belief – all three, died with my little boy.  As coroner of my 8 year old self, and I must admit, I thoroughly examined it , and he was not only merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead. (Sorry, I needed a little levity here – apologies to L. Frank Baum)  With the coroners assessment I was sure that super heroes did not exist, and my world diminished that much more.

My world remains diminished, and always will to some degree due to the loss of Rees, but something happened tonight that resurrected my 8 year old self…  Tonight I saw the essence of my little boy displayed on a vehicle that would have made him jump with glee.  Rees is gone, yet his presence was tangible.  Looking at that truck, adorned with a symbol that represents what ReesSpecht Life is all about, put me in awe of the power of the human soul.  What I, and thousands of others witnessed, was an incredible display of kindness to a little boy none of the brave men and women of the Nesconset fire department ever met yet somehow he touched from beyond the void of death.  In fact, everyone who saw that truck pass tonight was touched, in some small way, by my little Richie.  The “R” on that truck was testament to the power of kindness that continues to permeate outwards from Rees’ spirit beyond corporeal plane.  The acts of kindness that Rees is inspiring can only be labeled as something super.  My little super-boy is an inspiration from beyond the grave – and if that is not the power of a super hero, I do not know what is.

I received a message tonight from a former student who called my wife and I an “inspiration”.  I told him that real inspiration comes from within… we all have it locked within us.  All we need is a key to unlock it.  My little boy was my key, and now, thanks to the selflessness of others, he can be for many, many others.  I can forgive my 8 year old self for thinking it was me that was going to grow up to be a super hero.  It turns out the real super hero was another Richie Specht who, through the super-powers of selflessness and kindness,  is changing the world in ways I could never have imagined while trapped in that ER prison.  There is nothing inspirational in what my wife and I are doing.  It turns out we are only the first pieces of a much larger key forged by a real super boy.  Super Heroes do exist.  I saw the proof tonight.  If you want to see his “powers”, just look at all the kindness his spirit is spreading and how he is changing this world one Rees’ piece at a time…

A Superboy...

A Superboy…



2 Responses

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  2. So beautifully written, as always. We are most certainly instruments for a much larger scheme. If we all play our pieces right, miracles do happen. You have inspired and touched so many. I am in awe.

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