This post may be a little less coherent than usual. I'm really tired but I just wanted to write this down before the day slips away.
Thirty years ago this morning, I finally went into labor with Thomas. He was eight days overdue by then and I was getting tired. He apparently was just putting on fat, as he was 8 pounds and 11.5 ounces at birth, bigger than all of his siblings by a pound. But that day was full of ambivalence too: my mother was dying of cancer and it had finally become a sort of race whether he would be born soon enough to allow me to go home to the west coast and say goodbye.
As it turned out, my mother was quite stubborn about the whole thing. Yes, she was clearly at the end but no, she was not going anywhere until we all got there. In fact, she elected to take antibiotics to fend off almost certain pneumonia so that she would be able to see Thomas before she went. We flew to Seattle a week earlier than we had expected to--Thomas was three weeks old but a very healthy specimen--and spent two weeks with her before flying back to Maryland. Mom died a week later, very peacefully, with just my father at home with her.
It always seemed to me that Thomas's life was marked by that early sorrow. Clearly, as an infant, he could not have known what was unfolding around him, but somehow he seemed to rise to the occasion. He was a very calm baby, he slept pretty well, he ate (oh, how he ate) without problems. I remember just one fussy afternoon but my mother calmed him down, both of them stretched out on the sofa, until he fell asleep. Carefree, though, he never was.
So Thomas's birthday has always been reminder of that time of saying goodbye. This year is not only the 30th since his birth, but the 30th since Mom's death. I still miss her and now I miss him too. We don't have any pictures of that time--we just didn't think to take any because the only camera we had at the time was sort of challenging to use. This is one of the reasons I've embraced digital snapshots so enthusiastically--they are easy to take, they are easy to store, they can be multiplied so you can always find them. I never want to be caught short like that again. We never caught those images, something I really regret.
We did decide to celebrate Thomas's birthday with cake this year though! Itty bitty chocolate cupcakes make everything better and I'm pretty sure he would have loved them.
Labels: 30th birthday, my mother