The Power of Objects
People try to imbue all sorts of objects with power. Whether it be a crucifix, a “lucky charm,” or a New Age crystal, people are generally willing to claim that objects radiate some sort of mystical or spiritual power for no other reason than because somebody else told them it was so, or because they happened to be wearing that lucky T-shirt when they won a big hand at the casino. For whatever reasons, human beings believe things can contain power, even though we have no rational basis for believing so. In a sense, we are all animists, ever willing to accept the notion that the objects that exist in our environment can affect us or alter our destinies in some way.
For the left-behind father, this is not a matter of unfounded belief. He knows in a very direct and visceral sense the power that some objects really do contain. When we look at our daughter’s baby cup, or her favorite teddy bear, or the blanket with which she was once inseparable, we know all too well the very real power that objects have to propel us into another realm — a realm in which time no longer exists, the place of our yesterdays.
Why should these simple objects evoke any more memories for the left-behind dad than they would for any other father? What makes the power these toys and kiddie books and teeny tiny shoes any stronger than it might be for the everyday dad? It is because we have lost our connection to the present. The cord which binds us to this place and time with regard to our children has been severed, and we are thus only connected to our kids through this thread which stretches back in time, to a place where a genuine, not imagined, relationship with our loved ones once existed. Although we still feel like fathers now without our kids, it is only in some vague, esoteric sense that we feel so, much the way an amputee may feel phantom pains in a limb that no longer exists. However, we know that we once were daddies for real back in that other place, and we have the pictures and Barbie dolls and Legos to prove it.
So folks can feel free to kneel before images of their gods, or leave their crystals out in the moonlight to charge, or rub their lucky coin when the dice are rolling. If people want to believe that they can see their futures by shuffling Tarot cards, that’s all right with left-behind fathers. Because we know the truth about the genuine power of objects — those imbued with memories from another place and time, those simple, everyday things that she once held in her little hand or wore on her little feet, and which can cause the strongest of men to shed tears with even the most cursory of glances.