Today would have been Chris’ 35th birthday. I woke up this morning first around 2 am, remembering labor, and fear, and excitement at being on the brink of bringing my first child into this world. Eventually, I fell back asleep and woke again just after 6 am, right about the time Chris was born, via emergency c-section. My first thoughts when I saw him were, “oh my God, I have a deformed child.” He was bent backwards like a fishhook, with his head touching his rear end. I fell asleep finally, exhausted from 24 hours of labor, worrying about this little boy who would be forever looking up, if he ever managed to walk.
Of course, he didn’t stay that way, and by the time the hospital let me go home with him five days later, he was mostly straightened out, although he could lift his head from birth! Oh how I loved that baby boy! I wouldn’t let anyone do anything; I wanted to be the diaper changer, and the clothes changer and the bottle sterilizer and the bottle holder. I held him throughout his naps, marveling at the miracle of his precious life and how his birth had changed mine forever.
I wasn’t the best mother, because I spoiled him rotten. Truly, I was a lousy disciplinarian, and I gave into every wish and desire. Only with time did I come to realize what huge mistakes I had made in loving him in ways that didn’t help him grow and mature the way I should have. Despite my worst efforts, he managed to become a young man who had a heart as big as all outdoors, and would give anyone, stranger or friend, his last dollar if they needed it.
As Chris was growing up, he was my best buddy. We spent our days together, riding bikes, playing, taking drives. When he was a little older, and it was just he and I, we often went to the beach to visit our grandparents. He loved to explore as much as I did, and we spent hours and hours on the beach at Seaview, and Beard’s Hollow, crawling around on the rocks and searching for sea treasures. Coming home, we’d take all kinds of back roads arriving home long after dark. No matter where we traveled, if we’d see a road we hadn’t driven before, both would say at the same time, “I wonder where that road goes?” and we’d be off.
The year he was in second grade, we lived in a fantastic little house on the Columbia River one winter, near Stevenson, and had acres and acres to hike around in. One night when it snowed we stayed up and built an igloo, using a dishpan to build the blocks. Later, we sat together in a chair and watched the headlights of cars spinning out over on 84, the Oregon side of the river. That year we couldn’t get out of our driveway for a week as the little Honda was practically buried. Carson didn’t close the schools, and we’d hike the ¼ mile to the highway and catch a ride with the principal to school!
I miss my little boy today. I miss his smile, and his laugh, and his bear hugs. I miss him telling me “I love you, mom.” I miss his sweet poems he wrote as an adult to me. I just miss him something awful.
Today marks five years since I had my last hug from Chris, at his 30th birthday party. In 12 days, it will be the anniversary of his death, and while that memory is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, I am grateful for the precious memories of times spent with my son.
Wherever my boy is right now, and I chose to believe he is with God, I know in my heart he is at peace. That thought gives me peace and helps me get through another day without him.