Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Birthday



This picture is from James' original birthday.


On Monday, James turned two. He was born on a Friday. I almost wrote Thursday, and it felt that way. Kara's labor began shortly after midnight on Thursday and James was born around 10 the next morning. His hair drew immediate attention of course, a full head of brown spikes with almost frosted tips, blonde highlights caught in the light that enamored the nursing staff and passerby alike. Perhaps because of this, James became an exceedingly popular baby almost instantaneously. While other babies made do with single strands of hair or bald crowns, James shamed them all in the nursery. I was irrationally proud of him. He was perfect.

I miss that sense of surprise. I miss watching him grow and wondering what came next. Wondering when he would crawl, talk or walk. I miss watching his brown hair grow out with blondish roots, his eyes slowly settling into new shades of blue. He was always changing, growing. On his birthday I thought a lot about that. I wondered how big he might be now. How fast he could walk, what words he would know. These are the easy things of course, the milestones that are clearly identifiable in baby books. As I learned from James, there a thousand others they never mention, steps along the way that matter to no one but the two of you. The first time he laughs at you (and you meant for him too). The first time you see yourself in him.

I miss getting to know him. I wonder about the toddler he would have been and the father I would have been. This year it hit me more vividly than last, when I could still imagine him much as I last remembered him. That's not feasible this year. This year he would have been so different. It bothers me most that I cannot know how, though I desperately want to.

These are small disappointments of course, stray thoughts that can bring nothing but grief. Days like that go better when I think of the overwhelming joy that accompanied his birth- when I remember how idiotically proud I was of my infant son's hair. To dwell on the rest and to speculate about the precise dimensions of my loss is an invitation to a downward spiral. I try (but do not always succeed) avoiding those.

Happy Birthday son. We miss you.

Thank all of you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

15 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday. James would have been a wonderful beautiful toddler and you continue to be a wonderful loving father.

    Thinking of you.

    James will always be remembered by many many people whom he never knew but whose lives he touched. x

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  2. I have a good friend who is walking this walk. Each month, two days stand out for her: The first time she saw her son, and the last. I pray for your family and hers, daily. Truly, there but for the grace of God go I.

    DeeDee
    www.KidNeedsAKidney.blogspot.com

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  3. Happy Birthday James,

    from another who never met you, but who's heart you touched deeply.

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  4. Thinking of you and Kara often, Matt. Wild-haired baby James has left an imprint on the hearts of so many, including some like me, who have never met him. Happy Birthday, James.

    Your Stranger/Friend,
    Gretchen

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  5. Every time I drive past the Starbucks on NW highway (which is almost daily), I think of you, Kara and baby James. Not sure why that particular blog entry stays with me, but it does.

    Happy 2nd Birthday, Jamesie.

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  6. happy birthday,james!

    from another who doesn't "know" you, but whose life you all have impacted.

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  7. James is beautiful. And missed terribly. Continued thoughts and prayers for you and Kara.

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  8. Happy Birthday Jamesie!!! Keep watching over your mom and dad! Hugs and Prayers always...

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  9. Happy birthday sweet James!! What a precious boy he is. All I know of him is through your blog posts, but he has made a tremendous impact on the heart of this mom. I think and pray for you and Kara often.

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  10. And even though a week has passed this special day is still in my thoughts.

    Thinking of you.

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  11. I think of you often as I have been reading for a while (althought we have never met, I fell in love with James). I often wonder about Kara. When she wrote on the blog, she seemed to have such a sweet spirit. How is she? You are in my prayers.

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  12. I find your words to be very moving. They have a haunted quality which is apropos given the literal definition of "haunt": "To be continually present in; pervade." Your words convey grief so wholly that I can feel it without having met you. I believe it is impossible for someone to visit this blog and not be affected by that grief and the loss of this beautiful child who was loved so truly and completely by his parents.

    Joan Didion reflects on loss and grief in her memoir "The Year of Magical Thinking." She says, for example, that "Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind." She also writes that, "I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us." When I read this I can't help think of this place--this blog--and of you, Kara, and James. This is a place where James is alive through pictures and videos and reminiscences. And we carry him with us as well--those of us who have come to this blog can't help but look back through the pictures of James and share, in the smallest way, your loss.

    I guess this is all to say "keep writing." Your words evoke such emotion and encompass the devastation that is losing a child. While I can only wonder what it must feel like to be on the road you are on, your writing legitimizes a pain that others cannot verbalize. While we cannot share your load, we share the journey and thank you and Kara for allowing us to do so. I wish for peace for you and your wife with each passing day.

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