You Always Have Five More Minutes To Give

They were traveling with their three-year-old son. They boarded their flight in Boston. They were heading back to Los Angeles after visiting family in Cape Cod. They could not have anticipated that just 49 minutes into the trip, their plane would be hijacked and driven into the south tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

They could not have known this, just as they could not have known that not long before that flight, the two fathers were taking little David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst to the playground in West Hollywood Park for the last time. After a wonderful afternoon on the playground, they told David it was time to go and he shouted back, “Just five more minutes, Daddy.” And they relented as they always did. They just didn’t know it was the last time.

None of us do. There’s a last time you change a diaper. There’s a last time you get to speak with them. There’s a last time you push them in a stroller or walk them to school or drive them to their summer job. There’s a last meal, a last hug. The reasons for these endings are sometimes natural and even celebratory. Other times, it’s tragic, evil, and unfair.

Inevitably, it will catch us by surprise. It always does–even though we know our kids are growing up. Even though we know that everyone and everything that’s ever been born will die. The reason it surprises us is that we don’t know when…and because we love them, we love life so much, it always comes too soon. Which is why when our kids ask for a few more minutes, for one more hug, for a ride, for anything, we should find a way to give it to them. Because we’re giving it to ourselves too.

Today, on the 22nd anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11, where this one delightfully modern family stands in for the countless families devastated on that day and all days before and since, let’s read the inscription on the monument to David and his family that now stands at the park he used to play at:

David’s boundless energy and love were a gift to his Papa and Daddy and all those who knew him. David loved to play at this park – a little boy racing to climb and swing under the watchful eyes of his Papa and Daddy.

May David’s playground always be a place of joy, laughter and safe haven for every little boy and girl who asks for just one more trip down the big slide – or as David would say, “‘Just five more minutes, Daddy.’”

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