You’re not supposed to bury your children

Jeremy and his mom, 1977

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.

JT & me, Fairytale Town2
Jeremy and me, 1982

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.

Beach wedding dance_edited-1
Jeremy and Emily, 1997

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.

jt & tyler
Jeremy and his son, Tyler.

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.

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Author: Dave

Dave Williams is a radio news/talk personality originally from Sacramento, now living in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Carolann. They have two sons and grandsons living in L.A.

7 thoughts on “You’re not supposed to bury your children”

  1. I’m sitting in a bar at happy hour on a Friday night in Oregon and just felt my throat seize with tears and grief and joy all at the same time, and it has nothing to do with the adult beverage before me. My mother is my best friend so I will tell you from the other end of that bond how grateful the child is to have the steadfastness love and support provided over the years. You’ve “done good”, Dave, and he knows it.

  2. You write wonderfully. It is hard to put these sentiments on paper. You are right, we are not supposed to bury our children. Glad he is better

  3. Well said my love. Even though I didn’t give birth to him the heartache was the same. Watching him grow the last 3 decades makes him as much a son as my own. The fear if losing our son is something I hope to never go through again.

  4. All I can think to write is a memory from long ago. A very young Jeremy was continually repeating a joke he had heard (on Sesame Street?) and then laughing hysterically. Finally, Karen had had enough and said, “That joke really isn’t that funny, Jeremy.” To which he replied in his 5-year old logic, “I guess it depends on your perspective!”

    1. That sounds about right. Do you remember when you and Katie came to our house for dinner and Jeremy, who we had been teaching the differences between boys and girls, went around the table and asked each one of us, one at a time and in order around the table, “Michael, do you have a penis?” I think there was another couple there, too. Six of us. We all laughed, of course, but I asked that everybody answer his question thoughtfully and honestly. And we did!

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