I walked into the courtroom and saw the judge dressed up like a jester. Hanging from the rafters were orange, yellow, and blue bunting. Balloons were everywhere. In the middle of the court room was a huge piñata. Over four feet, top to bottom, a deep ruby red. It was in the shape of a heart. Beside it was the most beautiful wooden gavel, two feet long with thin silver filigreed inlay. Around the judge-jester, on every side, amongst the balloons, looking up at the piñata…were hundreds of children dressed up like judges. The judge-jester raised his hand, and everyone, from toddlers to children who had just celebrated their tenth birthdays, were silent.

The judge-jester, a man in his sixties with freshly-scrubbed face, smelling a little like soap, a little like sweat, and a lot like amateur clown make-up, cleared his throat ceremoniously. The children became even more quiet. “In the past ten years, I have made the final decision as to where each of you will live…which one of your parents you will stay with and which you will only visit. His voice became quieter and a tiny tear came out of each of his tired judge eyes and fell onto his jester shoes.” He continued, “I want all of you to know something and I don’t want you to ever forget it. The words I want all of you to know and remember are inside the piñata.” And with this, he walked into the mass of children and picked out the smallest, most pale six-year old that he could find…a boy with hand-me-down clothes and scuffed shoes, but with a light in his powder blue eyes that shown like a beacon. The judge-jester handed the little boy the wooden gavel and motioned him to take a swing at the piñata. With a wind-up like a major league pitcher and a grimace on his face, the boy burst the piñata at mid-heart.

Out onto the floor in a cavalcade of light motion, floating downward, were hundreds of small pieces of multi-colored, wispy tissue paper. As each iof the children rushed to pick up one of the rainbow messengers, the judge-jester took the hand of the pale little six year-old boy, now dragging limply the inlaid gavel. They walked onto the rainbow laden courtroom floor. The little boy put down the gavel, and, still holding the judge’s hand, reached down and picked up a sea-green piece of paper. He looked up at the judge. He looked at the paper. He glanced around him at the now quiet children. He read it to the judge-jester. In small beautiful gold script were these words: “You are a beautiful child. This tiny green planet has so much love for you. Both of your parents will always love you.”

The boy finished reading and looked up at the judge-jester. From the little boy’s eyes came a single tear which fell on the judge’s shoe. The judge knelt down and looked into the little boy’s bright blue eyes and spoke to him. “Have a good party. I have to go now. Make sure you lock up the courthouse when you leave.”

Jeffrey Post-Holmberg is a contributing writer for River Notes Blog. When he is not busy being a therapist in private practice, he gazes in wonderment at his three beautiful children and contemplates that tears and oceans are remarkably similar.