Happy Birthday, David


Dear David,

You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Well, you’re never far from me. I see your face in the countenance of our sons as they grow, and in the sensitive and intuitive spirit of our daughter. I put on John McLaughlin Al Di Meola, and Paco De Lucia’s compilation Passion, Grace & Fire to welcome the Pisces sun into my office and lit a candle. Then I proceeded to do everything I could imagine to avoid sitting down to write, even though I knew this was my ultimate destination today. I could hear you laughing at me, procrastinating.

Last year on your birthday, I was neck-deep in writing part of our story. You always told me to write and damn the people who didn’t want me to say what I had to say. I hope you still feel that way; I’m not there yet. I was truthful, but I admit to handling you with kid-gloves. My goal was to preserve memories, so that the kids would understand why we loved each other, and why that love remained even after the fires and sorrow. I wanted them to know forever some of the funny shining rivulets of memory that would disappear were I not to collect them into pages of words. It’s incomplete, only a fragment of the whole, but it’s something. It seems to have had a powerful effect on some folks. It came out last July, Maybe I should have planned that better…

I’m not sure what’s comes next. I know there are several more books, but I’m contemplating something more academic first, though I’m wavering. What a surprise, right? I’m still distrustful of the season of quiet calm that has settled over my life. I know some people live all their lives so securely, but I am still…startled by it, like the falling-reflex in early sleep. Eventually my compass will find its direction.

Jeffrey just filled out the paperwork for his driver’s license this week. It’s surreal. He looks so much like you, only bigger. He’s at least two inches taller than you, but his muscular, freckled forearms are all you. He plays football every day, lifts weights after school, and he’s called Big Red. It’s almost a given that when Bean starts football this summer he’ll be Little Red. They are so clearly brothers it’s uncanny.

All three kids are excelling academically. All three of them got your love for math, analytics, geometry, and they all love Algebra. I love watching how Bean makes sense of math in ways literature and art will never matter to him. Abby has a creative vein running through her analytical math center, and it blows me away. She’s a gifted artist, working in whatever medium she can find. Her spatial skills are phenomenal. She’s shifted from wanting to be a geologist to a veterinarian, to a computer engineer. She’s also picked up the ukulele recently. It remains to be seen what path she’ll ultimately land on, but she’s laden with talent and will be able to choose freely.

Bean now towers over me, and even so, it’s hard for me to think of him as anything but our tiny Bean. He was complaining over the holidays that his back hurt. It turned out his feet had grown two sizes in as many months, and once I bought him new shoes, his pain was gone. I felt like a terrible mother. Two sizes in two months? Good grief!

Tonight we’re continuing our tradition of celebrating your birthday with a dinner you loved- Papa’s Pappas from Hobbee’s and Red White & Blue power smoothies. Then we’re going to walk to 7-Eleven and get a Blue Thing, while we tell stories about you. It’s turned into a bit of a tradition, and the kids really seem to hold onto it.  I hope keeping you a normal part of our lives will help the kids as they continue to process your death.

In my office I have a small table set to the side where I have your brass singing bowl, a small Buddha, and mala beads. The kids love to tap the brass bowl with the mallet. It’s a way we bring around, and I hope you don’t mind. Tucked on my bookshelf behind a few things is your obsidian obelisk and the moonstone egg that came from your dad. All of these things belong to the kids, and I am only the steward for now. It still hurts my heart that I wasn’t able to recover your gohozon or butusan.  Instead, Jeffrey has your football, a gift from your sister last summer. To him, I think it’s almost as good.

We miss you. Every day. Happy Birthday, dear one.


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