This would be Jesse's 23rd birthday. I toyed with the idea of baking a cake, but what? Jesse's been so detached since he came back last May, that I have no idea what kind of cake he wanted. Maybe the one my dad liked (they were both born under the same astrological sign, shared the intelligence, cynical optimism, and cussed stubbornness. Different senses of humor. They both died young. They both died in front of me: dad with me pounding on his heart and blowing breath into him, Jesse with me holding his foot from the other side of the hospital curtain while the staff pulled his respirator tube. Jesse's heart kept beating, though he never took a breath. No death rattle. Dad's face turned grey every time I stopped one part of CPR to start another.
I'd rather think about Jesse's birth: at this point I'd been in labor for 31 hours. We had him at home, with no painkillers. I remember laying in bed between contractions, looking at the baby on a box of diapers nearby and thinking, I can endure this for you. And I did. But now? This?
I tell myself that it isn't really unfair. It's the human condition, and everyone goes through these horrible things in one form or another. In the living room that used to be part of Jesse's apartment in our loft, I stand in front of the urn and photos of him, and I ask him (I know, crazy. I'm crazy) do you like the new rug? And in my head he says, mock disdainfully, "It has a lot of big leaves." And I say, isn't there anything you like? And he says, "Jack Bauer," and laughs a little.
And then I remember, he always liked Phish Food ice cream.
If you'd like some, come by the loft tonight. There's beer and soft drinks too.