Friday, July 17, 2015

Four years gone

Where is my baby? Not with his family. Not growing up, vital and alert. Not here, not alive. The truth is I do not know. I cannot. I hope. If you believe, as I do, that faith is distinct from knowledge, that is the only real answer that I will ever have.
He is not here, and the sheer wrongness of it has not lost the power to smack me in the face, to take my breath away in a crowded room (last week on the train, a family with children, one in a stroller- where is my son? Where is my son? Not here.) without any warning four years on. It happens less and I am glad for that. But it is not gone.

In my dreams, it's often that way. A group of friends at the beach, casually meandering through the day. I'm playing beach volleyball one moment and the next I'm stricken with panic. James. How the hell did I forget about James? Where did I leave him? When was the last time he was changed? Oh my god I hope he's ok. It's very rare in my dreams that he's actually gone, or that I am aware of that fact. Instead, it's as though I've misplaced him. I'm sure both say more about my subconscious than I'd like.
Often I want to write with news of triumph. The conquest of grief and loss. But the only victor in this story is James, who walked away from his cancer and pain the happiest, most beautiful boy anyone could have hoped for. There is solace in that. Indeed, solace abounds in many ways. Family. Friends. Years of recovery. The dark days immediately after James' death, the oppressive grief that sees intimidation in doorways, showers and a trip to the store has largely receded. That is not to that say that the grief itself has passed, because it has not. There is no triumph over grief. Reconciliation, perhaps. You learn to live with it, to give it a wide berth when necessary. To honor the dead in life.
I take off every year for James' anniversary. Usually there's a trip. The beach. A city with a zoo. Something I like to think we'd have done together if he were here. But the day of must be in Dallas. I went to visit James today like I do every year. I brought Eatzi's, a picnic event. Avocados on the sandwich- he liked that because they were easy to eat. And he could feed them to himself. I read to him a bit from a book he wouldn't have liked but that I was reading anyway (something I also did when he was alive, selfish father that I am).
These days are sad but in an odd way I look forward to them. It is the one day of the year that I have to spend with my son. I can let the grief breath, allow my thoughts to ruminate and find some measure of peace. For at least one day, I have not misplaced him and I know exactly where he is. I can't speak to triumph over grief. No one triumphs over losing their child. People survive, and they do it by letting themselves grieve. Some days you have to let the loss win, and that's ok. You need those days for all the others where the grief rides along with you, as it will forever, but does not drown you. 

I wanted a good mohawk James picture to put up with this but side mohawk James will do too.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.


  1. We're still here.....and we will never forget your beautiful little man. Thank you for posting.

  2. Remembering your adorable James, today and always. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  3. Love and hugs to you and your family. James was beautiful and lucky to be so very loved.

  4. i started read your blog regularly, when Jamesie was first diagnosed with his tumor. A few friends of mine from high school and work, knew you in college and shared your blog. A year ago my husband passed away and your blog was one of the first things i wanted to look at and read. While the loss was very different i found comfort in your strength and resilience . still today i am amazed whenever you post, about the on going strength and courage you show. Please know that even though the calls and messages have slowed down, that Jamesie is constantly thought of.


  5. Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging.


  6. Still praying and thinking of Jamesie and your family! <3

  7. Thank you for posting. I always do a check in to see if you have posted anything. I always have your beautiful little man in my mind as my son and him were only a few months apart. I have been blessed to have mine with me and I always think of the unthinkable pain that you and your wife have to endure every day. I always pray for you and I hope my words don't upset you. Always thinking of your baby boy.

  8. We are still here, always remembering James and so often thinking of you and your family. Love to you all.

  9. I started reading your blog when James was diagnosed; a friend of mine from law school clerked with you and shared your blog. My son was just a few months older than Jame at the time, and I think of your son often.

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  11. A little prayer for your family on Easter weekend.

  12. Heading home from Easter break and your Jamesie popped into my thoughts. My prayers are with you!

  13. "Facebook memories" reminded me of your son when I asked for prayers for him on July 13th, 2011. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link I shared back then just to find out your son is not longer here. I am very, very sorry.

  14. I will always remember your beautiful boy. Continued thoughts and prayers that, while this loss will always remain, life has blessed you both abundantly in other ways.

  15. Today a friend went to the zoo and posted pics of her son pointing at a giraffe. I thought of James and you guys. Just a stranger from Texas who continues to pray for you all.

  16. Thinking of your family today. We spoke briefly when James was in the hospital (via telephone) about treatment options. Just wanted to say I was praying for you all tonight.

    Much love,
    Stacie Smith
    Fellow ATRT Parent.

  17. Thinking and praying for y'all today!

  18. I just want to let you know that I continue to think about James, and my heart hurts to think that he's not here. Gone too soon but not forgotten.

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