Hi Baby Boy. I love you. I still constantly wonder what you are doing and if you really do see some of the things happening here on Earth.
Daddy is mowing again right now. Every time he mows I think about how we should be looking out the kitchen window at him and waving, or waiting for him to walk by so we could knock on the glass and you would laugh. I miss these days. Your kitty, Smudge, must have known I noticed this discrepancy, so he jumped up to watch Daddy for you.
Today was the last day of VBS, at the “Fun Maker Factory.” Some of your classmates from “2s” have been there all week, and I know you would have loved every second draped in a red, oversized T-shirt that went to your knees as well.
Ms. Savannah White and Mommy have been busy writing skits to go with the lessons for each day, and coming up with ridiculous costumes for my character, Edward Gregory Gordon III. He was a serious inventor, who insisted on being called by his full name and wore his shirts buttoned all the way to the collar. He didn’t know how to be silly or have any fun, but every day he was at the Fun Maker Factory, he made a few new friends and learned how to loosen up a little bit more.
I loved rifling through the attic and garage to find new tools or pieces to craft Edward’s inventions! I realized that for the first time since you left this world I was excited about something. It gave me something productive to do with my nights that are usually paralyzing, and somehow the kids provided me enough energy to keep both of us entertained. When I was packing my vroom vroom today, there were so many random things like Mommy’s hard hat for visiting the field, a ladder ball game that was modified to make a “wonderfully complex” creation, Daddy’s brightest Hawaiian shirt, my guitar, a pool noodle, metal kitchen tongs, a level, Play Dough and pipe cleaner, and even the silicone pig and frog oven mitts (which I might have used to tease Mr. Jeff when he had to kiss a pig, ha). Each of the items made their appearance on stage, and hopefully made at least one little soul smile.
Ms. Savannah and I also went into the kitchen and saw someone who was the most popular with all of your friends - Mr. Scott! I had seen him earlier in the week but didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to get upset. Ms. Savannah asked him if he remembered me, but with so many kids and parents, he didn’t. I told him how you loved it when he came to bring breakfast to your class, but I didn’t tell him you were gone. Despite the hundreds of kids he has seen over the years, I have a feeling he would remember you. I wonder what the last meal was that he brought to you, and if you gave him “five” on your last day with your friends.
There were so many things that made me think of you all week. One of the days there was a little boy who would have been in your class, and he was wearing a yellow submarine, Beatles shirt. Yesterday, another 3-year-old on the front row showed me Lightning McQueen on his outfit and was jumping up and down to the song we were singing.
Every day there was a new lesson to learn. Today’s theme was that God loves us no matter what we do. My character, wearing his bright orange Crocs that matched his hair perfectly, and finally known as “Eddy,” accidentally broke his sister’s guitar and was worried she wouldn’t forgive him. Later in the day, his sister (also me) comes out to play guitar and tells the audience that she does forgive her brother because God forgives us. I had drawn a big crack in the guitar with a dry erase marker and used several different colors of painters’ tape and one of your sock monkey bandages to “repair” it. After the skit, a little girl told me she didn’t really like the color of my guitar before, but now it’s “even more prettier.” Hmmmm, another lesson inside the lesson, delivered as usual, from the innocence of a beautiful child. Sounds like my heart. It is absolutely demolished, but when I am able to choose to bring happiness to little children, (and adults, too), it is more meaningful now. Joy rises above the jagged shrapnel fragments, and pieces together the things that I know would make you happy. My life’s mission is to make you proud of me, and it is one of the only reasons that has kept me alive every second since you’ve been gone.
This week I’ve felt like I was doing what I was meant to be doing. Singing, playing guitar, and learning from those beaming, young faces. I loved seeing them smile and look up at me in awe (or maybe it was a look of slight fear at my strange not so androgynous character). Every day, Edward Gregory Gordon III says he isn’t going to stick around, and every day Ms. Savannah and the kids have to convince me to stay. The second day, it came time for such persuasion and the kids screamed and cheered until it erupted into a roaring cadence of chanting “Eddy, Eddy, Eddy.” I finally announced into the microphone that I would join them for another day. Shouts of joy and applause ensued, and even though I was just playing a character, I knew then that they wanted me to keep coming back, too. They couldn’t have known what they were doing for my spirits, but it was absolutely my reward for the day. Even the older ones who figured out Eddy and Bernie were the same person (As one little girl said, “you have a girl face.”) still wanted to say “hi” to me no matter which character was in front of them. It made Mommy so happy to know that the kids were having fun with their new awkward friend. They didn’t care that I had enormous tri-focal glasses that only stayed on Mommy’s face when they were tucked into her wig. They just knew that this clumsy, peculiar inventor needed them.
As Mommy’s office closes, I will keep looking for ways to do more things like this that align with my passions. Mommy is still writing preschool songs but it is taking a while. Sometimes it is hard to have any motivation, and other times work or other commitments get in the way. Some days the sadness does get the best of me, but I know the reason I’m so heartsick is because I love you more than I could ever describe. The last 2 months Mommy has been having a very difficult time waiting to be with you again. It is one of the cruelest parts of all of this. I want to be with you right now, and I don’t want to have to wait another 50 years or more. This role, being EGG III, couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Ms. Savannah’s (and Mommy’s) very talented friend, Haley, normally co-hosts VBS songs and skits but she wasn’t available this week, so Ms. Savannah took a leap of faith and asked if I would join her. Ms. Savannah is as nice as she is gorgeous (not to mention a soulful, gifted musician). You were pretty lucky to have her with you at “2s.”
While I was digging through some of my tools and toys that collected in her office, I couldn’t help but notice a set of pictures she has displayed. They are all candid pictures taken in New York City, and one of them shows an elderly lady with a quote. It says, “When my husband was dying, I said, ‘Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?” He told me: “Take the love you have for me and spread it around.” Wow. That’s what Daddy and I are doing for you. That is the essence of the Caleb Effect. While I have always been a high-energy, silly soul, now it doesn’t come as freely. I don’t always feel up to playing the part. However, children have special powers over me where I can’t help but feel their contagious, pure spirit and unbridled excitement. Even days after we lost you, holding your baby cousins and chasing the bigger ones around our yard brought playfulness through tears. As I told, Ms. Hannah’s Mommy, Wendy Lambert, who had never seen this side of me, “these are my people.”
I’m happy I had a few hours to spread joy and share what I’m discovering are my gifts from God, but I wish they could last longer. Each day I would get in my car to drive back to work and I would immediately think about how much fun you would have had and how you may have even been jealous like you were in your classroom. Would you proclaim to all the other kids, “my mama” as an attempt to let them know my heart belongs to you, and you will be the first to get my attention? You were willing to reluctantly share me for a few minutes, but anything beyond that would not be tolerated. This week you had to share me with 243 kids. The kids didn’t know it, but I shared you with them, too. “My Caleb!” I learned the purest meaning of joy from you, and I hope they take that with them long after they leave the “Fun Maker Factory.”
I’m still working on that part, Caleb. Before I even left the parking lot, my tears were dripping down my face and onto my seatbelt. You would have had so much fun singing and dancing, giving high fives (I will always think of you saying, “all right” as your little hand landed inside someone else’s.), meeting new friends, making marshmallow and pretzel forts with your snack, and playing on the playground. There are still so many things I wanted to do together. I wasn’t finished being your mama.
Mommy doesn’t feel well. My throat hurts and I’m guessing I may have picked up something from all those high fives I’ve been getting all week. Even if I’m sick, it was worth it. I’ve already seen proof that my littlest friends are going home singing the songs they learned, and one even pretended to be me, dancing and singing and playing his air guitar, right, Natalie Burns? Mommy is grateful Ms. Savannah, who had never seen Mommy’s silly side, took a risk on inviting me to help her. What a week.
I promise to keep spreading love in your memory now and always. I love you and I always will.
Tomorrow is going to be so boring.