Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kara and James



This is a picture of pregnant Kara. She was radiant.

Kara worries a lot. She worries about things that would never even appear on my radar, like matching clothes and ottoman throws. She worries about people more than I do. I am often more selfish, more indulgent to put it mildly. I don't usually worry, I tend to assume that everything will work out in the end, one way or another. Kara once found a flight to Germany on the cheap over spring break when I was in law school- nestled perfectly between exams and deadlines that demanded my full attention. She thought it might be fun. I decided, somewhat whimsically, that we should go to Germany. I responded in what might be described as a typically Matthew way- somewhat impulsively but decisively. I tracked down the flight, compared alternatives, and within a week or two was mercilessly scouring travel sites for the trip we’d be taking to Germany over springbreak, law school or no, and regardless of the fact that we couldn’t actually afford it then. I am more easily distracted, and much less practical. She is more grounded, more level headed, and a thousand times more practical. We go to test drive a car and I buy it then and there, provided I walk away with what my research and I consider a "win." Kara would never do that.

All of this is to say that Kara and I are complete opposites, in almost every way. Our approach to parenting was no different. I will freely admit that I was terrified of becoming a father. Anxious, excited, yes, but also deeply terrified. While I love my father dearly and admire him, when I was young we were never really close. We simply didn’t have a lot in common. In terms of temperament, we were never anything alike. When I was younger I was often difficult, broody and introspective with a quick temper. My father is gregarious and quick to make friends. If he wanted to talk baseball, I wanted to talk history or politics. If he wanted us to play golf together, I quit playing on general principle. When we learned Kara was pregnant, I hoped for a girl, because I wasn't sure I knew how to foster a good father-son bond. Kara was the only person who thought it would be a boy- and as always, Kara was right.

Especially during the first few months of James’ life, I found it hard to adjust to fatherhood. I had no idea what to do. I loved James with all of my heart, but I made a lot of very poor decisions. I struggled with my role, with how to act and what to do. If it had been up to me alone, James probably wouldn't have done so well. But it wasn’t. James had Kara too. He had her calming, steady presence to look after him. And she did. Kara mentioned once that she never spent more than a few hours away from James. That was not the case with me. I spent days and days away from James. I have many regrets. More than once I told myself that if I missed x, y, or z it would be fine- I had a lifetime to make up for it. I was wrong, in every possible way.

I got better. It took a while to sink in, but fatherhood grew on me. My fears ebbed and I grew into my role. I embraced it as mine, not anyone else’s, and did the best I could. I came to realize I didn't need to be anyone's vision of a father, just James'. James and I developed our own rapport of actions and habits apart from Kara. Games like boom goes the baby, where I’d send him soaring higher into the air than his mother would ever allow. He was a huge fan of my swing pushing style. We had our own collection of nicknames and vocabulary. I called him little son. I'm not very original. We got to know each other better. Eventually, it became impossible for Kara and I both to imagine what our lives would have been like any other way, with a daughter or with any baby but James, with all of his unique quirks and characteristics. Even when he got sick, I always resented people who in passing would treat him and other babies as if they were interchangeable, from absent minded respiratory therapists insisting they "always" do this to the lazier general (not neuro)anesthesiology nurse who failed to notice the sex of the child she was about to operate on. People often forget that even at eight months old, a baby is more than that- each is a person, slowly acquiring the traits that will define them.

Kara was instinctively and naturally brilliant with James. A love poured from her for him that was a privilege to see. Her precious baby boy, from the first moment in the hospital when I held him against her chest. She knew to do all the little things that I did not, and performed them flawlessly. I learned a lot from her example.

When James became ill, Kara led by example. No crying in James' room, bright faces and games for Jamesie. Our disparate styles became an advantage, as each of us processed the information in our own way, so that we could inform the other. Our perspectives often differed, but they informed one another. We learned from each other, and because we were different, we were able to be strong at different times, which often translated into the right times. We could lean on each other, so that both of us could be there for James. We were finally fully functional. And none of it would have happened without Kara, indeed, most of the best and most perfect moments of James’ life are impossible to imagine without Kara.

There is no one on this Earth with whom I would have preferred to go through that with. And there is no one who could have endured it so perfectly. Kara is, by any definition of the word, a fantastic mother. I truly believe that God chose her to be James’ mother because he knew how extraordinary a mother James would need, and he knew that Kara could provide that to him. I am grateful for that, and much more.

29 comments:

  1. How beautiful!!!

    I have been praying for you guys since Jamesie was sick. Please know that you two are so very loved and covered in prayer.

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  2. Look at this!! Will be change your life. This is very important.

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  3. fantastic post! your dynamics are displayed perfectly... i don't know you but am right there with you! you both are immeasurably amazing parents... you accomplished what I still try to accomplish with my own children... only you did it in a few short months... with charisma, grace... and oh how could you not! that jamesie face is Mr. Charisma, himself!

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  4. You both compliment each other so well! God knew what he was doing when he chose you two to be James' parents!! God Bless you in this new year with amazing things! Hugs and prayers!

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  5. What a beautiful post! You really do compliment each other so well!

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  6. So very moving and generous, I pray for you two often.

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  7. I'm so glad ou two have each other!

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  8. So beautiful - thank you for honoring your wife in this way!!

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  9. One of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

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  10. Kara and Matthew, I am new to blogging and posted for the first time yesterday. I wanted to see what others have posted and I discovered your blog. My heart is so touched by your loss and I'm so sorry that you have had to suffer what I think is the greatest suffering of all, to lose a child. All I can do is to say thank you for your courage and for your sharing. I know that you have helped others. You are such a beautiful couple and I send you prayers, thoughts of soothing comfort. Life seems to be a process of deep sorrows, great joys and moments in between when we can only wonder about life and what it's all about. I want to tell you that James is in perfect joy and health and is being taken care of by beautiful angels; that you have both done a great work of suffering a great loss and you well be greatly blessed. But right now you are doing the work of healing. Find your peace wherever you can; look for moments of quiet joy; let yourself grieve and be with people that well help you through it by supporting you in your grief. Be kind to yourselves, be patient,let time work its own pace. You are still James parents and he would want you to take care of yourselves as you cared for him. You gave him a great gift by letting him go and he is in a wonderful place. James will never be far from you, you will find him in small ways, in quiet moments, when the time comes. I have suffered great losses and I will never be the same, I will be someone new. Everyday there is someone suffering loss like you and you are not alone, you are bonded with others in this beautiful work of love you are doing. God's love to you, The Silent Owl of the Morning.

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  11. This is so touching. I discovered your blog from another blogger who linked to you a week or two before James' passing, and I still think of him often. Is it weird that complete strangers halfway across the country think about your son? I can tell he was such a loved baby, that is definite without a doubt.

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  12. What a beautiful post honoring Kara! I'm still praying for you both. God is working wonders in your life.

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  13. What an absolutely beautiful statement about your wife. I'm so very sorry about the loss of your precious little boy. I have been very moved by your family. It sounds as if you and your lovely wife are hanging on to each other during this time. You have both displayed incredible grace. Thank you for sharing. God bless.

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  14. You, Matthew Sikes, are an amazing and courageous and honorable man. Blessed, too, and destined for great things. Kara knew integrity when she married you. May your love for one another continue forever and may you grow ever closer.

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  15. To change things up, I'm going to respond to a post that's not months old.

    Tara: Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We have had a long journey.

    Scribe: James had no shortage of charm.

    Colleen: Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

    Thinking about it: I hope you are enjoying blogging, and I am glad you took something away from here.

    Lindsay: Thank you for keeping in touch with us.

    The Hills: Thank you, we still need the prayers.

    Sunny: Thank you.

    Sam: Thank you for your kind words, but trust me, I'm more than fallible.

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  16. this was beautiful, matthew <3 God gave you each other for a reason. Prayers said, as always.

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  17. We're all fallible, that's for sure, but thank God - Thank GOD - that we've been redeemed. You are honorable and that's something that seems to be sorely lacking these days. James (coincidence?) 4:10 says Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. You show humility and kindness in your life and the day is coming soon that you WILL be lifted up. Marriage is hard. Marriage with the kind of trial you two have been through can be broken easily or made so strong nothing will come against it. I hope for you and Kara it's the latter.

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  18. I've been reading y'alls blog since before James' untimely passing. You've both proven to have such strength and grace during times of great affliction.

    What an encourager you are to Kara!! As a woman, it is enouraging to be noticed for even small things. If and when you two decide to have another child - that child will also be as blessed as sweet James. Thinking about you guys often and praying for healing hearts.

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  19. God blessed James with the perfect mommy AND daddy for him. Both of you were the exact parents that James needed. I continue to think of and pray for you guys daily.

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  20. I hope that if anyone ever approaches you and Kara about writing James' story for publication, you agree. You have a gift for writing (and Kara is very good at it as well) and many people who don't read blogs could benefit from your insights in book form, Mr. Sykes. I also hope that writing about your life with James brings you joy. You and your wife have a love for your son that is inspiring to other parents. Thank you for that!
    Tracie Richey

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  21. Your blog is very good~

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  22. I saw it was important. I guess that convey an important message.
    I already have come.
    It looks like a good video.

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  23. That many people crying out You think that anyone who speaks

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  24. Such incredibly loving and passionate words. A beautiful post!

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  25. This is beautiful. The world needs as many examples of husbands who love their wives as it can get. Thank you for being one of them! I pray your strengths (and weaknesses) will continue to compliment each other for many, many years to come!

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  26. thank you so much. foosbobetr good Archive

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  27. Hello Kara and Matthew, God bless you today and may you soar as the eagle with His grace and mercy.

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