(Hurry up please it's time) so I pack the baby in the car and we're heading to his new place (well, not so new, not after three years, but still new anyway). It's just the two of us, going to meet his grandfather. I didn't see him while I was pregnant, never told him he was going to be a grandfather, but I think maybe he won't be so surprised anyway. Maybe it's like that now....
I haven't made this trip in two years, only made it once, twice before. I almost can't bear it (don't want to, can't make me, you'll see) but I do anyway. I think of a million reasons why this can wait (he'll never remember, he's too young, what difference will it make?) but I never turn back. How can we come all this way and not stop by? We were in the neighborhood after all (I'll say).
We stop at the store to buy flowers. I say, which ones do you think grampa will like? I hold up options, and he considers them with the seriousness only a very young child can muster, as if he understands the gravity of our journey. He makes his decision and I agree, grampa will love them. We continue on our way, cheap flowers sitting in the front seat next to me. There are no more reasons to stall.
And then we're there, heading up the drive and I watch the beautiful red, white, and blue waving in the wind (oh, he always did love his flags, I think fondly). One left turn and we're there, searching over the small hill (Section J Site 141, Section J Site 141 runs through my head like a teleprompter) and there he is.
We stand for a moment, and I think I'm sorry, I'm sorry, this isn't how I wanted it to be! I remember screaming in that hospital NONONONONOGODNO, oh no... he can't really be gone, he was supposed to be there to hold my babies, love them, be their grampa and it's screaming inside me now. But I sit down with him on the lush green grass and we read the book I made for Sebastian/me/everyone, all about Grampa Wilhoite.
He gets restless (well, he's not even 18 months) and wants to play in the grass. The healing has come in spurts and long stops with no progress between, and one small, beautiful child erases some of the pain I feel (but never, no, not all). I think, you would have loved him dad, loved his little personality, and how he's so tall like me/you and has a Charlie Brown head like me/you and great big feet like me/you, and have you seen the size of those hands? He'll be palming basketballs like me/you in no time, no time at all. I write him a letter in my head (the letter I've been writing for three years now), all the things I wish I had said, and just let it go (let it go let it go let it go let it be).
It's time to go home now, it's late, and we want to be home before dark. He sleeps in the car and when I glance in the rearview mirror I see myself, myhusband, myfather, in his small self, and I laugh because I realize I was right three years ago, he can't really be gone, because we're all still here.