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.
This week my son returned home from the hospital, a week mostly spent in the ICU.
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 small centrifuges and smeared onto slides in a lab at the CDC in Atlanta.
A couple of weeks from now my kid will turn 39 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 number of years of JT’s life are completely meaningless to me. I’m his father and all my son’s birthdays are equal from my perspective. They are all scattered moments of his life, the nearly four decades of memories of him that I keep in my heart, timeless and eternal.
He’s still five days old to me, five years old, the teenager, the joyful college student; the remarkable husband and father to his own son that he has grown to become.
He’s still the young man who stunned me by asking that I stand beside him as Best Man in his wedding. When I choked back the lump in my throat and stammered, “Why me instead of one of your buddies?”, he answered as if it was obvious, “Because you’re my best friend”.
For the past week I’ve tried to understand 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 a good thing.
All I know for sure is all that will ever matter to me:
My son is alive.
He’s back and getting stronger.