Ten Years After
Of all the memories I have of AJ as a baby, the one that's most vivid is of he and I in the rocker. It's 2 a.m. and the apartment is quiet and dark. I'm singing to him barely above a whisper. His eyes are open, staring straight up at me and he is, for the moment, still and silent. We rocked for a long time and I ran through pretty much the entire playlist of songs I'd sing him (they were not lullabies; they were a mixture of power ballads and mid-tempo grunge songs) while I was alternately annoyed--because he wouldn't go back to sleep--and awed by this little human looking at me with such curiosity and wonder, this helpless son of mine whose future was boundless and dependent on me.
Which is where I find myself again more than a decade later, roughly three weeks out from meeting my son, whom I will no doubt soothe with many midnight renditions of Pearl Jam's "Black."
Emet has had a relatively routine pregnancy. Light on the morning sickness and she hasn't blown up like she feared she might. Her body is strained, however, and the past couple weeks have magnified her discomfort. She's tiny and the little guy is growing rapidly. She's joked that she has swallowed a basketball, so firm is her belly, so crowded her womb has become. When he moves the slightest bit, she feels it. When he moves a lot, kicking elbows and heels, she says it feels like a wet dog violently shaking water from its fur. We laid in bed last night, my hand resting on her stomach when I felt a flutter. "That's where his hands are," she said. The basketball is more like a medicine ball now.
May 16th is the due date and he is still a dream to us. How can we know him? How will we feel? Questions that remain to be answered, no matter how many birthing classes we take or how many onesies we fold. We catch ourselves wondering, predicting. We are blind-sided by emotion, like when Emet received a gift from one of her students. A blanket. And crocheted booties, in baby blue. So tiny and so infinite. Her tears came from nowhere.
He has a name. We don't know it yet, but he has one. We add to the list of possibles, but we'll have to see him first.
AJ asks, "Daddy, will you still have time for me when my baby brother comes?" and Emet and I fall to pieces. "Of course," I say. "No matter what, you will always be my baby boy." But it's going to be hard. AJ loves the idea of his brother. The reality of him will be different.
"You can always talk to us about these issues," Emet tells him. "You're going to be a great big brother."
And he will be.
This child is a blessing. We say that all the time. He is that, but he's more. Both Emet and I spent years doubting we'd ever have this chance. Again, for me. This opportunity for such profound love and meaning. I tease her that she doesn't know what she's in for, that all her plans and rigors will melt when she see's his face. The truth is, I don't know either, despite having been through this before. It was a long time ago. As much as I do remember, there is assuredly more that I've forgotten, a sad realization, though perhaps a beneficial one. Somebody once said the reason people have more than one kid is because they don't recall how hard the first one was.
Yes, it will be hard. Perhaps more than we realize, thanks to our age. Raising this boy together will also be rewarding beyond all measure. "I've known you since before you were born," I like to say, echoing the words of Our Savior.
But it will be a few weeks yet, before we get to meet. And I get to sing to you.