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.