I met Caden on the same day I met my dear friend Bob Kendall. From that day to this, I learned that Caden would teach me, in a few short months, wisdom that I never aspired to know. I didn’t want to know what it feels like to stand in a hospital with beautiful parents while the details of a tumor are described and find the end of words where all I could do is be present. I didn’t want to know that there comes a time when McDonalds French fries and Chicken Nuggets are too exhausting to eat so that a Happy Meal cools with time and tears into an inedible mass. I didn’t want to know that the empathy that binds humanity could invade days and nights for months as child and parents implored the universe for one more day on the lake, one more ride in the forest and that this empathy would find its way to me whether I was in Virginia or on the other side of the world in Papua New Guinea. However, I needed to learn through these catechisms and needed Caden to be my teacher.
Caden carried light in life. He communicated with all of us and for all of us. As his voice failed, he took to drawing and began linking color and image in artifacts which will be long held in their cipher. However, Caden drew one image on the night of our first meeting which will live, for me, as the message of hope in these times of puzzle. The image is in purple marker. At first glance, one can make out a form that could at one moment be a tree branch and the next could be the wanderings of a caged bird. None of these. The image is of a bridge. The bridge has an anchor only on one side and juts into the whiteness of the page. It goes to? Nowhere? Anywhere? Everywhere?
Caden’s Bridge is a gift of wisdom. For in it, a child of six years invited a reconsideration on many planes. Does a bridge only have its identity and essence if it looks like a bridge? Does a bridge contain its utility only when it connects two identified points? Can a bridge merely be the beginning of a connector which is sufficient for others to draw their own destiny? Can any image drawn in purple be a bridge not to a destination but linking inquiry between planes, times, and understanding?
Caden has crossed. Lux Invictus. Peace.