They make me so happy, and they make me so mad. They remind me of everything I want to stay in my heart, and they betray me when they begin to fade. The fading is inevitable, of course. No matter how perfect my mind is, it will never be the same as the real thing.
Life is good for me right now. Jack is getting so big. He’s so much fun. He says, “Up, please” (“uh-uhb”), “Down, please” (“doh”), “Thank you” (“juhjya–you”). His favorite word that encompasses every feeling and every object in the universe is really an excited question, as really all of our feelings should be toward the universe… “dyooh dyaow???!!!” If he sees a brush, he combs his hair with it. If he sees a sponge, he brushes the floor with it. I can’t even put down in writing how much of a blessing it is to be able to stay home with him. We are so close.
I’m about to start nannying another baby. 2 1/2 months old, right around the age Jack was when Nate died. And, looking at her sweetness, I realize how I’ve forgotten about Jack at that age. It just seems like an eternity ago. I’ve forgotten. I look at Jack and try to remember how he always wore his mouth in a constant “O” and eyebrows furrowed in deep infantile thought the first 2 months of his life. Oh, yes, he was colicky for awhile. Oh yes, he pooped all over my shorts in despair when we got him circumcised. Oh yes, he would only fall asleep at night when Nate would swaddle him in tightly and hold him to his chest as he walked around the house. What else have I forgotten? What else will I forget?
Memories are the best and worst things about death. The best because I have these thoughts and images about Nate that I hold in my heart as a safely guarded secret treasure that no one can take from me. The worst…because they fade. Not all, but they do until I’m left with a caricature of the same person that I could correctly guess what would be the next words out of his mouth about 80% of the time 10 months ago (Alright, he happened to be an easy one, because he repeated himself a lot. A lot. A lot, a lot.)
I love hearing people talk about him. They have stories that I don’t remember. They say things that he said or did when I wasn’t there. But then there’s this part to it –sometimes, some people– to where they’ll say something or make an assumption about his character based on an experience with him, and I think they’re completely wrong about who he was. I mean, no one has ever, ever said anything bad about him to me. Mostly it comes in the form of him being too perfect, honestly. I wise remark here, a completely selfless action there, making him too understanding, to make him almost god-like. And he was nowhere near god-like, obviously. The most special thing about Nate was that he was so normal, so goofy, so…human. Mistakes and all. And yet, he did life so right. I tell people that he would have been inspired to change his life by attending his own funeral. He trusted God most–even with his doubts, questions, sins, regrets, and at times spiritual complacency. He really did love me, and then Jack, even when he was occasionally impatient with us or took us for granted. He really was such an awesome, trustworthy friend, even when he got distracted and forgot to call. Our marriage was fantasticly fantastic–even when I pouted too much and went, as he fondly called it, “schizophrenic” on him (insert “overly emotional” here), or when he chose a loving relationship with the computer as a personal companion over me or was a total know-it-all about things of which he knew nothing or very little of. We once got into a huge fight over how much toilet paper I used.
I’ve realized when people only talk of all the good things, he turns from a person into a legendary hero. A tall tale. Inhuman. And, the hardest part, not correct to true life. And I want to remember him…all of the little beloved idiosyncracies and all. All of the mistakes. Those same mistakes are why it’s a miracle he’s redeemed now.
And while my memory keeps on betraying me, (making me feel sick about it sometimes, and thankful at others that it allows me to move forward) I sit and think of all the wonderful qualities of the man I loved and always will, but then, I think of the things about him that annoyed the heck out of me. And I feel better somehow. Guys, learn how to love the imperfections of your loved ones. Please. You might somehow be thankful for them one day, like me. I know, I truly know it’s easier said than done. But imperfect people are the best kind of people, anyway.