Nine years ago today you left. A lot has happened since then. Nine years is actually a long time; if you live to be 90, it is 10% of your total life. You only got to be 40, so it’s about 22.5% of what you got to experience here. It’s almost 33% of my experience that you’ve been missing. I’ve never really thought about it that way, but you’ve been gone for about the last third of my life. You’ve missed out on a lot, Mom.
One month from today, Carolyn and I will celebrate 11 years married. I know if you and I were talking right now, you’d joke that that’s WAY too long. But hey, you never made it past three years. Haha. However, it was that instability and constant state of change that made me into an adapter and pushed me to seek good resources and guides along life’s path.
Two months from now, we will celebrate the fifth birthday of your oldest grandchild, Charlie. Named after your dad, of course. He’s awesome – as expected. He has my dimples, charm, and will. Every day, I get a feel for what you got to experience with me and I understand why discipline probably wasn’t the easiest thing to administer with me. Thankfully, I have an amazing partner in Carolyn, and we talk through each of those challenges as they present themselves and try to continually steer Charlie in the right direction, helping him to be the best version of himself he can be, instilling discipline without dampening his spirit or uniqueness. You would really enjoy spending time with him and plotting and scheming tricks on Mommy and Daddy (especially Daddy).
Jase, my second boy, is nearly two-and-a-half. He has an amazing laugh, the cutest facial expressions, an over-abundance of dimples, and an attitude that lights up a room. His favorite spot in the world is on top of my shoulders, which he refers to as “mum-mum.” I have NO idea how he came up with that name for it, but we’ve accepted it at this point. His vocabulary is increasing exponentially every day. It’s amazing to hear him learn people’s name and identify who is and is not present at the moment. Not to mention animals. He points out EVERY animal that he sees, some trees, a lot of “gucks” [ducks] that go “gack gack”, and biiiiig trucks. He is sweet and loves to snuggle and just be with you. He’d probably be the one to keep you grounded and leave our home feeling loved.
Then there’s Aaron, my third son. Yes, that’s right, three boys. Pretty much the exact opposite of your growing up situation. Kind of different than both of ours really. You were the youngest of three girls and I was an only child. Anyway – he’s our miracle baby. He’s only 7.5 months old but he has brought us tremendous joy. His birth was amazing and can only be described as having God’s hand all over it. After he was born, we discovered that he had an issue where part of his intestines were twisted and had atrophied. He had to have surgery and we barely breathed except to pray. At less than two days old, he was in the NICU post-op having had about a quarter of his intestines and his appendix removed. Yet he began thriving VERY quickly and exceeding every benchmark set by the doctors and impressing the nurses. Our spirits lifted as we saw God moving all around us and providing everything we needed during that time. Had this happened in the ’50s, he would have had only a 1% chance of survival. But I’m happy to say that he is thriving and when your eyes connect with his you can’t help but stare. His laugh is infectious and he is literally happy ALL the time. He’s the happiest baby I’ve ever experienced, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. He just recently started being able to sit up without immediately falling over, his weight is good, his size is good, and he’ll be crawling in no time. I think you would find a lot of joy in his smile and his bright eyes.
Carolyn has taken tremendous care of me. She loves me unconditionally. We work through whatever issue we are facing together. No matter what, she’s always on my side. She’s got my back and she loves and supports me consistently and in such a way that I’m amazed every single guy that ever meets her isn’t jealous of me immediately. Maybe they are. She always strives to be a better wife and a better mom and isn’t just satisfied with “good enough.” She puts up with my teasing and my quirks with a smile (most of the time), and she even teases back sometimes. I know she was always your favorite when I dated all the other girls during school and you were right, she was the one I should marry. I’m glad I did. Even my dad has told me that while you and he were both very skeptical of us getting married so young, that he is glad we went through with it and couldn’t be prouder of who we’ve become and how we are continuing to grow.
I’ve gotten into biking and woodworking and other random things. That’s more recent, but of course that’s what’s on my mind because it’s recent. Hard to think of everything we’ve done and been involved with over the last nine years. We own a home in Noblesville, Indiana. I know as a kid I said I didn’t think I’d ever leave Ontario, but we LOVE where we live now. It’s home. We live near a little airport and the boys get to see airplanes and hot-air balloons and all sorts of things take off and land there – it’s really cool. Remember going to the airshows a few times when I was little? It’s not quite as intense, but it’s every day when the climate is agreeable. And get this – I drive a minivan! What the heck, right? You’d laugh, but I’ll tell you – that thing is awesome. I’d probably make you ride in the back a few times so you could tease the boys while we drove somewhere to do something fun or explore something new. We like to do that from time to time and I think you’d be down for it.
From what I know, your mother is doing mostly well. Your middle sister and her kids are doing well – all growing up and whatnot. Your niece even has her own little girl now. I’m not sure about your oldest sister and her girls really; I know one of them took your death pretty hard, she really looked up to you. I don’t hear from them much – or at all. To be honest, since you left, I don’t really have many ties to your side of my family. I’m not sure why, I just know that no one ever reaches out, and when I reach out it’s met with little or no response. Perhaps it’s because your loss was too painful and I’m a reminder of that, or they’re just too busy for someone they can’t see since I live so far away. Who knows? I’m not part of their daily lives and I get that. It’s all right, I’ve got my own family to tend to now and as you can tell, I’ve got my hands full!
Something pretty cool though, that I think you’d appreciate… Carolyn’s parents moved up near us a couple years ago. They live just about one mile away and we can walk or ride our bike there. It’s a very similar situation to what I had with Grandma and Grandpa growing up. The boys even go over there all day once a week. And we share meals together all the time. It’s wonderful.
I often think of things that I wish you could experience with us, or questions about myself when I was the various ages that my boys are in order to gain some insight or understanding as to where they are coming from and relate to them. But, I have relegated myself to just being patient and assume that I don’t yet understand what they are trying to communicate or what is upsetting them. Seek to understand, then help guide them through it. It works pretty well, but sometimes I get frustrated with a boy or a situation and it would be nice to hear you say, “Oh son, you were exactly like that. You think you’re going to talk him out of it? Yeah, right! Didn’t work with you – likely won’t work with him. There’s no getting past it, you’ll just have to let him run and fall and figure it out on his own.” And I’m sure Carolyn would love to hear some insights from a pure boy-mom. Especially the one who raised me, as those tips would be extremely relevant. When you were my age, you had a nine-year-old already. I’m sure you’d be full of useful lessons from your viewpoint of our experiences together. Oh well. It is what it is.
Our life is amazing and we are so blessed. I’m sad that you’re not able to be a part of it. But in many ways you did help create it. The first two-thirds of my life with you helped push and teach and train me to become and develop and pursue who and where I am now. By good or bad example, by joyful or sorrowful experience, by encouragement or discouragement, and many other factors, God used them all to guide me to where I am. Willing or not, you were His tool in my life – and I am thankful for it.
I miss you at times, especially on this day when I remember receiving the news that would never speak with you or see you again. I would never give you another hug. You would never meet your grandchildren. You would never see the home I would make for myself. You would never celebrate another birthday, yours or mine. Although yours was just nine days away, you just couldn’t hold out (personally, I think you just didn’t want to be called “old” so you just kicked off before you hit 41). That you would never share a meal with my family. That you would never take a road trip and come visit. That you would never get another speeding ticket. There would be no more “firsts” in my life that you would be a part of. It was a tough day. Some years it still is. But, on my end, there is still a LOT of life to be lived.
I don’t really know how to end this, and I’m sure you’re not reading it. So anyway – I hope you’re having fun, whatever you’re doing. Thanks.