If people were born with warranties we’d all be guaranteed a certain number of years of good to reasonable health. Untimely death by accident or an act of God would be the only exemptions.
Earlier this week my son returned to his home after a hard week in the hospital. He was very sick. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we could have lost him and they still don’t know why. Jeremy’s doctors were skilled enough to revive his failing internal organs, reduce his fever and send him home, yet vials of his blood are still being spun in a centrifuge and smeared onto slides in a lab at the CDC in Atlanta.
In a couple of weeks my son will celebrate his 39th birthday and while we all try to make sense of the numbers that log our own existence and constantly inform of us how much time we may have left to live, the count of years of JT’s life are completely meaningless to me. I’m his father and all my son’s birthdays are like the nearly four decades of pictures in a shoebox, memories of him that I keep in my heart, timeless and eternal.
He’s still the young man who dazzled me, explaining matter-of-factly that I was his best friend and then asking me to stand up for him at his wedding as his Best Man.
He’s the dad I tried to be.
For the past week I’ve tried to make sense of why our children’s lives, regardless of their age and ours, mean more to us than life itself. I suppose it has to do with our own survival instinct, the fierce insistence that above all else we will live forever or at least, in the end, to have mattered. It’s a spiritual rabbit hole that I can’t enter and that’s probably just as well.
All I know for sure is that my son is alive and getting stronger. He’s getting older, too, except in my heart.