My father was a gifted elementary school teacher who touched many many lives over the years. He took enormous satisfaction from the cards end notes he received from people he had taught in 2nd or 3rd grade and now were graduating from college, marrying, and having children of their own.
People who knew him might read this and be stunned to hear he was even sick. In truth he was diagnosed with late discovered, terminal prostate cancer several years ago. One of the reasons he retired early is that he knew the treatment would take a toll on him, and he didn't want to expose his students to those emotions.
My dad decided not to become the cancer. He fought it bravely, but continued to live his life on his own path, doing some of the things he had always wanted to do
Almost two years ago he was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma multiforme, A very serious and aggressive cancer. In a terrible irony, the cancer attacked his speech center, and a man who had spent virtually his entire life giving the gift of literacy to children, suddenly struggled to find words.
My father was thrilled that Siri was pregnant, it meant a tremendous amount to him, and it's a crushing blow that he died before the baby was born. In the end, the aggressive Chemo he was on caught up with him, and he just didn't have the reserves to recover. He lived the life he wanted, caring for his other grandchildren right up until the very end. In the car, on the way to the hospital, he wanted to stop and do errands and show my mother another house he was interested in.
Words can not convey how much I will miss him. I can only hope that I will be half the father he was.
If you are reading this and you knew him. Find a child and read that child a book. It's the best way to remember my father.
So, we're in a hotel for the night.
At home she started having laborish pains, but as we were still a few weeks away neither of us took them too seriously. By the time the opening ceremony for the Olympics kicked off Siri announced, "If this is practice labor, I want my money back because this sucks.". Shortly after that her water broke and we were off to the hospital before the Dr returned our call.
At the hospital the nursing staff greeted us with a look of dread. Not another Chinese woman going for an 8-8-08 baby at 10pm... They were relived to find out we were Thai and that any time before Monday (when some wacky Thai name numerology kicked in), would be fine thank you very much.
It's been two years now. We've been without him for almost as long as we were with him. The death of a child is not something you get over, it's something you very slowly learn to live with, sometimes well, sometimes not so well.
I get caught up in how to answer simple questions. The waitress asks, "What a beautiful baby, your first?" The truth brings tears, the harmless lie seems disrespectful to his memory.
"How are you?", a basic standard of everyday social interaction. I can never bring myself just to just say, "fine". Each new day is another day without Jait, and how can that ever be "fine", or "ok". To say it is, even in passing, hurts in a place deep inside.
Jayryn at one.
Of course, I get in trouble if I wake the baby when I do this, and I have a tendency to weep in the practice, so it's a delicate balance between navy seal boarding tactics and reality-show contestant histrionics.
My wife's theory on sleeping babies is that all little boys must sleep with a monkey, so Jayryn has two in his crib. (Well one, is really a lion, but it's such a misshapen sock-puppet sort of thing that it could pass for a monkey, (especially if there were storm troopers at the door looking for lions)).
Tonight, as my mantra runs through my head, the little boy starts to stir and I'm worried I'm about to be busted. Eyes full of sleep, he churns through his covers. I grab the one true monkey and as Jayryn flips to his stomach I deftly slip the monkey into his flailing arms. He pulls the monkey into a tight hug and makes the gentle left-hand turn back to dreamland.
I'm feeling very "Indiana Jones style Raiders of the Lost Ark" as I re-tuck him in with a quilt my mother sewed by hand, back from the day when that's the sort of thing she did.
I creep back out of his room full of the small, quiet, victories in parenthood and wishing there was more of those feelings in life.