June 19, 2017
I just got through reading your Journal to Paxton yet again. It breaks my heart just as much two years and ten months later as it did that first week when we found it. Still what a Divine Gift that was.
As I read back over it the words you leave to Paxton are like knives to my heart as you say things like you are writing these things down so that Paxton can come back and read at any time the things that you had to share with him; the musings and life advice. With every line I read I hear a man that adores his wife and child; plans on the baby growing up someday and reading this and knowing how much he mattered to his parents. I hear a man that sounds as if he plans to continue writing this for years to come. Every line stabs at me as I read how much Kara wanted a baby, what a good mother she was, how happy you all were, how hard you worked on your house, how proud you were of it, how smart Paxton was and how you wanted to give him a general idea of what life was like when he was born, what he was like at each stage of his growth and a record of each of his little milestones. You wanted to tell him how you met his mother, how much you loved his mother and how much the two of you loved and wanted him.
As I read it in retrospect I want to scream – “He will never read these words. He will never know your love or your intention. He will never need your advice. He is two and a half – and he will never be three!” I want to protest and stop time where you are on these pages and never let August 23rd 2014 come. Just to see the year 2014 written out makes me turn literally sick. As I read the dates you mention in these pages my heart pays careful attention. It is November 2011 as you begin you are 38 years old – I pause and count up the time you have left on that date. You go back in time now to the date you and Kara met – February 6, 2009 my heart lightens as I remember how happy you were at finding her and I remember exactly when you broke the news to me and your dad that you had asked her to marry you only days later. I remember distinctly looking straight at her and asking “Are you crazy?” You were not amused. But you looked at me and said: “I know what you’re thinking and yes, she knows I’m in debt and that Alex has been in trouble and I know how crazy this sounds Mom, but I let her get away one time and I am just not going to make that mistake again.” You mention your wedding date July 11, 2009 and my mind flits back to the events of that day. I typed up your vows that you were to read to each other. Hers were silly and falling right in line with the goof- ball you had portrayed to her. Yours would melt my heart. I thought that day – how yours and hers were going to be so vastly different and how yours would surprise her – but they would not surprise me. I knew how serious you really were about this and what this marriage meant to you. And while it was true that you certainly had a silly side and were constantly joking and cutting up – I knew what she did not, that most of the time it was a smoke screen to hide years of hurt and heartache not only from those you were with but from yourself. It was a light-hearted attempt to detract from the tragic life of hurt that had plagued you for years. Intended to make you laugh and forget.
January 26, 2013 – I read and quickly calculate that you have one year and seven months to live. You mention to Paxton that he was born on December 10, 2011 – I go back…to the hospital the night of his birth, Kara is in labor, you are a basket case. You cover it trying to fidget with the medical items in the room like a 12-year old boy and you pace. They take her down for an emergency C-section and I quickly assess the panic that crosses your face for just a split second before you hug Kara and tell her everything will be okay.
You tell Paxton then that you moved into your new hour in February of 2012 and I remember the pride and excitement you both had at having a home that you made your own with the blood, sweat and tears of weeks of intense hard work as you both side by side patched a thousand holes, hung doors, replaced plumbing fixtures, painted over bright red enamel paint that spanned the 20-foot cathedral ceiling, I remembered feeling so proud of both of you but maybe especially Kara – at her age – digging in and working night and day beside you to lay custom tile in the kitchen, put in new countertops, hang and stain new cabinets. She was learning as she went and never complained but actually seemed to enjoy it and she actually saw the beauty in the two of you doing this together. I was amazed.
Your next entry is December 2, 2013 – My breath catches and my heart skips a beat as you inch closer and closer to the date. You mention Paxton is about to turn two. It is 8 days from his birthday – his last birthday. You say it is creeping up on Christmas –the last Christmas; the last Christmas you will ever see; the last Christmas I will ever enjoy. December 2013 was our last Christmas with our complete family; my last Christmas with the baby; Kara’s last Christmas and the last Christmas her family will ever enjoy. Then I remember two events from that Christmas – the baby yelling out “NANA, I MISSED YOU!” when I never heard him put two words together. And then I remember what I said when everyone left that day. As the last one got in their car to leave I turned to your dad and I said, “I will never do this again.” I had my feelings really hurt because I had worked for weeks to decorate and plan, cook, shop and wrap for Christmas and everyone stayed about 45 minutes and ran out the door saying you all had plans to go to a movie – I was devastated - movies play 364 other days out of the year. Christmas comes once a year. Jamie and Marie had driven over 400 miles and spent 45 minutes with us and ran out the door to go see Skip’s other children. And after weeks and weeks of planning and days of working - I was alone on Christmas day hurt and angry. And I said, “I know you think I don’t mean this – but I’m serious I will never do this again.” And prophetically, I never will.
June 22, 2014 – your last entry. I realize I am sitting here “accidently” rereading this and writing “this” exactly three days shy of three years since that last entry. Countdown. Two months and one day. You tell Paxton some of the funny stuff he does and what he is like at this age, you mention things you do together and talk about his new puppy. Then you cut to the chase – you talk to him about God, you tell him again how great his mother is, you relay life lessons about women, marriage and patience. You tell how much he means to you and you talk sweetly of your special time with him and how much you value that time. I realize as I read from an almost three year perspective that it sounds like a synopsis of your book of things you want to leave to your child in your absence. As I realize for the second time that though you thought you were writing this for him – you were in fact under God’s instruction – writing this for all of us.
I am both sad and extremely thankful.