I’d stayed up too late making a shepherd’s pie for dinner that night. And bolting the DVD cabinets to the wall in the basement. I don’t know what I was thinking. Leah had been sleeping in the guest bedroom — she’d been growing progressively more and more dissatisfied with the queen-sized bed she’d bought years ago not long after she moved to Maryland, but it would be a few more years until we replaced it — or trying to sleep, or whatever, and she came in and said, in a one-in-the-morning sort of noncommittal way that it was possible that her water had broken, but she wasn’t sure. Though she’d be pretty confident about it when talking to anyone else. She called the OBGYN once they opened, and they said we should come in, so we did. The nurse midwife was surprised that we’d come in, despite having been told to, because she reckoned it was pretty straightforward at this point that what we ought to do was to go to the hospital and, y’know, have a baby. So we did that. Fortunately, the hospital was right next door. So about twelve hours later, we had a baby.
And then one thousand eight hundred twenty-seven days passed. A bunch of stuff happened in the mean time. Back in the days before I almost always had a camera in arm’s reach, there was this one afternoon where he looked up at me from playing on his activity mat and then flopped forward onto his hands in a pose so cute I really wished I’d gotten a picture so I could post it to the internet with a black matte around it bearing the caption “Baby Facepalm: He doesn’t even have object permanence, yet he knows what you just did was dumb”. A couple of years passed. Leah went up to take a shower, and he started hopping on the spot, explaining, “Mommy jump in shower. Didi jump in kitchen.” That’s what he called himself back then, until he mastered L-sounds. One Easter, he found a chocolate egg intended for the hunt early and when asked where he found it, he held up the flattened foil wrapper. “It was inside this.”
I had to hold him one night as he cried over a friend I’d never heard of before who just moved away. And another when we explained that in the event of a fire, no, he had to get out of the house right away and not stop to gather his favorite toys, even the magnet-handed shark that came with his bicycle helmet which he loved more than life itself. He lost the shark about a month later. He asked me easy questions, like “What’s your favorite color?” and “Can two men get married?” He asked hard questions like, “If the president does bad things, why don’t the police arrest him?” and “Which of your children do you love most?”
Yesterday, we went swimming and ate pizza with his friends, and then we came home and he opened presents, shouting “I always wanted one of those!” as he revealed things he’d never seen or heard of before in his life. And he went to bed. And a few hours later, I opened the door to his room, and for the one thousand eight hundred and twenty-sixth time (modulo about a month’s worth of overnight visits to grandma), I listened to make sure he was breathing, and whispered, “I love you, son.”
Happy Birthday, Dylan.