I had already lost one kid, a preemie that had no chance really, not in 1986. David was born and looked more like a doll than a person and it is possible to be bonded even that young. So in lieu of actually experiencing the milestones in person with my son, I am going to do it here.
An aside is my daughter Rachel. I will discuss her more lately and she managed to be born without major trouble, in a relative sense of course.
I remember the song by Bobby Goldsboro, ‘Watching Scotty Grow’. The song speaks to the emotion of love. And I loved the melody.
But first rather than my own recollections, of how David would search for us, his parents. His dream would go like this. Mom and Dad, hello, I know I am seem a little weak and it is hard to breathe but thank you for meeting me. I don’t understand what the narrow hallways are or why God put me here, just to go? Why?
But Mom and Dad, I feel that I need to say something, something that you will understand some day. It will come to you. You know Mom and Dad, I came when I did because it was destiny and I learned very fast just to be able to tell what happened to me and for you to not worry or feel guilty about. My leaving will have nothing to do with anything you did or did not do. Really!
The time in Mom’s tummy was far too short but I did learn a few things. I heard everything you said and even though the words seemed strange, the emotions were like currents that swept by and left me changed. I grew to love you both and I still do and will always feel this.
I sensed how hard it must be for a woman and a man and the toll it takes, first having and then not. Plans for the future put in a memory chest to difficult to open and hard to explain. You see Mom and Dad, I am part of the Cosmos now. It is a world, a universe that not even the most advanced scientist of science fiction writer could imagine.
The last time Mom held me I knew something was wrong and when the doctor and nurse suggest that you and Dad get something to eat, I was almost gone. Down in the cafeteria a phone rang and Dad took the call, I saw that too. I think he already knew what was next. He said, our baby has died. To which the doctor confirmed.
I could still feel though and I felt the pain. The stress and anxiety were like bullets sattering glass and when you go there, a part of me was still nearby. Both of you rocked me in that memorial chair. A donation from another whose child passed on. I actually know him but that is not important now. What matters is not closure in the modern sense of the word, but the continuity that can not be broke. You see you two, I am still here and waiting.
I, along with my creator, are not confused. It is enough for the creator to be. What happens next are dominoes in many different dimensions and you might laugh at me if I told you, but you will see for yourself. Mom and Dad, be happy. I dried your tears but give you hope. Another star will fall soon, that star will live as flesh and blood for the years appointed to her and yes, it will be a girl.
David told that all to me but the light of being glows brighter than any star. It also did not burn but rather like a balm that soothed against the scorching wind.
My story goes like this. My girlfriend got pregnant with David and we were happily getting along and planning for the arrival of our baby. The first thing would be our child’s arrival, on a bus in the future in the glow of creation. We were warned however that there was problems and that my girlfriend was high risk. Immediately I tried to figure out what that meant but essentially her cervix could not contain the baby for coming out. At some point unbeknownst to us, our child would enter the world.
One day at work, the word had come and I rushed home and called 911. We got the ER and the maternity wards where she dressed in those sexy smocks and told to lie down. I remember the nurses telling her to relax and take shallow breaths but she panicked and David was born in a room not intended for birth. The nurses and doctors were in shock and immediately called NICU where David would spend a couple of weeks.
There were good days and bad days and some times my girlfriend would be cross with the nurses and doctors. Often I would go to calm her down and she was overwrought until she could hold the baby. But time with us was very brief, little David’s lungs were too small and he weighed about 18oz. Just over one pound.
The NICU was a fairly quiet place considering all the machinery, pumps and the steady release of air from the ventilators. The place was comfortable and we were treated very well. The thinking was that David only had about a 10% chance of making it and he put a bit of a battle considering all his problems.
Finally came the downturn, the writing on the wall. I cannot say that he was let to die peacefully and the reason we were sent to the Cafeteria. None-the-less afterwards we took turns rocking with David’s body. I remember looking at David. So tiny that it almost did not seem real. His death was sad and I was a bit depressed. I was like floating with the clouds, my emotions dulled by the strain. And of course my girlfriend who had MS had her own problems even outside of David and his loss.
There are turns to this story and a lot of emotions. Even going back to work a boss had bothered me and I got really upset and when I finally broke down the manager at my job was very sympathetic. I was one of the top worker’s there and something was amiss and now he knew why.
There are no harbored feelings out of disillusionment. I get the lay of the land. At that point the shock was beginning to ease and I could start to hope again. I count it all as gain for us and the settlement we made to each other had begun.
In my dreams David and I would fish and father like son, he had a problem with tying his schools. Hey I am not proud of that, but I guess that is me and no reason to worry. We would sit on the dock with our feet bathed by the soft ripples of waves that came and went. His toothy grin reassured me that I was okay and he always sought my approval.
He had red hair like me, another Opie Taylor with wide-eyed enthusiasm I would tuck him in bed and he would say good nite to us and that he loved us and we were the best parents ever. That is a humbling experience, you know? Like Thor’s Hammers his words were profound. And not just like everyone’s kid but he was ours.
His first day of school left me in dread and I think he knew. He just smiled and hugged me and I knew, this is what it is like. One rocky step after another, at least in terms of him growing up.
The first few bumps and bruises were as traumatic as anything I could imagine. Worse things were considered like wars and fights with his peers. I can laugh now but we would be playing and he gave me a black eye. Explain that to your friends.
As he was growing up he would tell about our Christmases and all the fun times and how he earned his merit badges and scored his first points. He would shyly tell me about Lisa and how perfect she was. All I could be was proud and remembering how stunted I was a child, socially and physically. And if he had a challenge or some conflict I tried to let weigh one thing against the other. To think outside the box.
He was good at sports and he overcome whatever adversity seem to come his way and he told his coaches and other peers that I supported and inspired him. This was true because my dad never saw me defeat the number one wrestler in the state and my record was like 0-5, against the other guy was like 38-0. Or my unassisted triple play or my cousin who was an All-American.
Even as a teen, we would fish. Using nothing more than a bamboo pole with string and a hook and some cornbread on that hook, we would haul in some very large Carp and Catfish. We would go home and tell mom that it was so big that it would not fit in our canoe, so we let it go.
We would go camping and then talk about the small boy who was named ‘Warthead’ and after that was our new name as we teased each other. He would learn about his life and about girls soon enough. He love to talk a lot and we would forget that in our days the calls in town were free, so length would not matter that much.
Looking back, I miss the smallest events. From getting stuck in a ditch, to the wreck of the train not too far from home. He would tell me the schedule of the trucks from across the street. He even had favorite trucks and that he loved a rainy day. Good boy!
Like me he went off to serve his company and all that I wished, was that I was a good dad and did not forget him.