Twenty-nine years and about two hours ago, I gave birth to my oldest after nine hours of labor with absolutely no meds. I was 22 years old. What did I know?
But this isn’t about me.
Although I emailed him first thing this morning hoping he’d see it, and tried the cell number I know no longer works, I still don’t have the sense that he knows I’m thinking of him and how very fast time gets away from us all. Yes, I just saw him last Sunday, and sure, he came over and put his arm over my shoulders when I stopped in Whole Foods where he works, but still.
When I was 29, he was already six and his brother not quite two years behind. I had big hair.
Not about me. Not about me. Not about me.
But it has to be about me to some extent, doesn’t it? I’m thinking about how things come to pass. How some decisions are made in life with purpose, and others like confetti has been tossed into the wind. Sometimes, I think life feels somewhat like a house with several rooms — each containing aspects of who we once were and how we lived our lives, kept separate from each of those that follow. When I walk past the photographs that line the wall of our staircase and see the differences in the faces within the frames, it seems those people — we — are not the same people. The events in our lives have changed us.
As I think of him today, I unlock each of those rooms and enter, letting the memories wash over me, smiling at many, regretting some, and feeling wistful at most. There is so little I don’t remember. I hang on to it all like it was a gift.
I could write forever about this man whom I swear wanted to live in the Fifties, and what has made him so unique, but I can’t. Not right now. Not today.
Twenty-nine things will give a glimmer of an idea instead…
You picked up a pencil to draw when you were two and never stopped.
You loved Lucy and watched every episode over and over until we thought we’d go nuts.
You love cats. Love. Them. Even though you can’t breathe around them.
You never, ever fought with your brother — well physically, anyway. You did call him some interesting things like “gristle, fat, and lard,” which we now laugh about, including him.
You loved music that we loved so saved us from having to listen to music we were ready to tolerate at best.
You’ve only really asked for one thing, ever. One.
I don’t think you wanted to poke out my eyeballs too badly when I encouraged you to go to the prom with that girl.
Your eyes twinkle when you smile even though they’re so brown I can’t see your pupils.
You have a completely disgusting sense of humor.
You love all things retro and used to wish they were still that way.
You love Corvairs.
You were in that Corvair club with all those old farts, and didn’t you have to bring a casserole or something once? Bwhahahaha!
You tolerated the piano lessons until I stopped them, and then told me years later that you wish you’d stuck it out.
You wear clothes you find that belong to others and it doesn’t matter to you.
You tolerated a job that nearly sucked the life out of you, keeping you from doing what you really wanted to do. I think.
You went to the vet when it was time to let Holis go and helped bury him because I couldn’t.
You cut the molding for the stairs after the MoH and I couldn’t and it took you about three minutes.
You used to disappear for a couple of days and when you got back, tell us you felt like driving to Arizona.
You’re better than you used to be about visiting when you said you would instead of not showing up.
You have always been respectful of me. Well, except the time you didn’t show up for your birthday dinner after you asked me to make it.
You love your gramster.
You burn the candle at both ends and don’t know I know it. I know everything. Really.
You tolerate people and things you wish you didn’t have to — including me.
You’re still nice to your brother.
You’ve always been lovely to the RTR.
You’ve never liked math and ended up studying something that depends on it. Funny how life works.
You told me long ago that someday you wanted to buy old houses, fix them, and then let people who couldn’t afford houses live in them. I think you were about 11 or 12. And no, I don’t know where you got that idea.
You survived how many schools that I subjected you to? Goodness. A kid shouldn’t be as resilient.
You’ve been friends to people who have taken advantage of you and then you pay for it. Literally. And you just deal with it.
Is that 29? Did I count correctly?
This is your Birthday Song. It isn’t very long.
I love you and look forward to seeing you this weekend when I bake my very first gluten-free chocolate birthday cake.
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