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A Kiss a Half Lifetime Ago

February 26, 2016 1 comment

IMG_20160223_214536_01When Andrea and I went on our first date and had our first kiss, I was 21 years, 2 months and 26 days old. When February 11th of this year quietly arrived, so did 21 years, 2 months and 26 days since that first kiss. I have now spent half my life with Andrea.

That day, back in November of 1994 was spent with me making nervous preparations for our date, going to class and working my college job. We had been friends for a few months now and had been growing closer with each day. I don’t remember when or how I had finally asked her to dinner at my place, but it was greeted by our friends with, “Finally!”

Near the end of the day, we met up in front of Campbell Hall at York College of Pennsylvania after I got off work and she finished studying at the library. I was so nervous that when we found each other, I was honestly a little shocked that she seemed happy to see me. I really don’t remember the walk to my campus apartment much, but I do remember making a nervous joke about if she planned on studying at my place because she had her backpack with her. I don’t remember dinner much either, except for me nervously asking her if she liked the ziti dish I had made and not believing her positive response.

mandmchristmasHowever, I do remember that first kiss. I remember it in all it’s wonderful and awkward glory. We made awkward conversation as I think we both sensed it coming. I believe the last thing we talked about were these M&M Christmas string lights I had hanging. In another awkward pause, I just dove in with the kiss that would change everything for both of us and ricochet both or our lives into a completely new direction.

The writer in me wants to elevate this kiss with flowery prose and giant words that make it seem like the world shook as streams of light pulsed out from our heads, causing everything in it’s light to become better and all the problems of the world were instantly solved. The truth is, it was a very sweet, simple and awkward kiss…Teeth may have even bumped. On the timeline of history, it was just a singular moment that changed little. However, we ceased being just friends in that moment and became something so much more important. Our lives changed and, down the road, two other lives would begin. The person I was did not cease to exist in that moment, but that kiss would change the DNA of who we both were.

Now, literally, half my lifetime has passed since then. Prior to meeting Andrea, I felt like it took forever to find her…At that moment, I had spent my lifetime looking for the person that would make me whole, yet, now, I have spent more days with her in my life than I have spent without her.

Sure, we had some bad days in there. Honestly, we had some really bad days in there. There was a one month stretch when we didn’t even talk and there were times where it seemed that kiss would only be a reminder of what could have been. However, that kiss had wired us together and given us the strength to make it through those days.

February 11th passed quietly. I had calculated out the day years ago and had been thinking a lot about it in the days before. Honestly, however, I had the day as February 21 in my head and did not discover my mistake until around February 18. We spent the 11th mostly apart. She would have had class and the boys and I would have had basketball practice after work and school. But even the chaos that our life exist in these days, kisses would be exchanged.

There would have been quick, awkward kisses to the foreheads of the boys as the tried to escape to the school bus and then, again later as they tried to snuggle under their blankets. And there was the quick, gentle kiss between Andrea and I as she headed to bed…and while it was not as awkward (or long) as that first kiss, it was just as sweet and simple. And while nothing would change in that moment, it merely served as monument to that first kiss that happened half a lifetime ago.

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Categories: Giraffe Lips, Prequel

Looking Back at Christmas 2004

December 24, 2014 Leave a comment

This afternoon I went out on my lunch break to the Walmart to find some dry erase markers that are to be a part of a special Santa present to the boys. It was rainy and dreary and as I tried to navigate out of the difficult parking lot, a sudden strong memory came out of the blue and hit me in the face. It was the memory of being a stranger in a strange land trying to piece together a Christmas during what was already the most exciting time of my life.

IMG_0137Ten years ago, Andrea and I arrived in the Lehigh Valley with a moving truck and a group of friends and family ready to help us fill up our small rented home in Bethlehem. Even as boxes and pianos were moved and friends and family standing near, we carried a big big secret with us. More specifically, Andrea carried the big secret. It was only a week before Christmas and we knew that was the time to tell our families that a baby was on its way, not while we were covered in dust and sweat.

It was a hugely exciting time for us. The move to a house in Pennsylvania, where day care and everything else was less expensive than in New Jersey was a deliberate and calculated act when it came to the baby. We told everyone there were other reasons, but growing our little family was at the heart of the matter. We just didn’t expect Benjamin to become a welcome intrusion to our lives as quickly as he did. Knowing what we know now about Benjamin, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

I watched Andrea closely. I made sure she didn’t carry any big boxes. I handed her stuff to carry that wouldn’t even cause a sweat. And we moved and no one was the wiser. The next several days were a blur. As our friends and family went their ways our little house suddenly felt as big as a cathedral. It was just the four of us (our dog Edgar would very quickly learn he was no longer the baby) in that house and even though Andrea and I had known each other for ten years at that point, our life together felt like it was just beginning.

Our stay in the Lehigh Valley began the next day with Andrea very, very sick. Despite best efforts, the activity of the day before had taken it’s toll on her and it feels like she spent the entire week between then and Christmas in her pajamas. It wasn’t the truth; we both had to work a couple of days and in reality, I think she was just sick through an extended weekend. As she snuggled in, I did my best to unpack and get boxes away. Christmas was upon us and I wasn’t going to let it slip by, unobserved in our new house. Andrea moved from chair to chair as I rearranged stuff to make room for a tree and she looked on, going from amused to calculating how quickly she could get to the bathroom.

At some point, we wandered down Broad Street to a Christmas tree stand. We found the perfect tree for our little house, brought it home and decorated it, surrounded by boxes. It was moments like that which triggered the sense of the magnitude of the situation.

We were in a tiny house in a big giant new world for us. We were in a city where we didn’t know where to even get groceries. We didn’t know anyone else and we felt so alone with this big secret. But looking back, there was something so very sweet about it. We had each other and this giant secret between us and the intimacy of that situation contrasted with being in a strange new city made me feel closer to Andrea than I ever have, I think.

We eventually found our way around. I found that Walmart that triggered my memory today. I had gone there for some small things for the house and stocking stuffers for Andrea. I think it was the first store I was able to locate after the move and it’s somehow become burned in my memory, closely associated with that Christmas. Andrea and I would also venture out for a late dinner one night to satisfy a pregnancy craving, and that memory was also burned in my mind. I remember staring out the fake snow frosted window at the Giant across the way and being both scared and excite. However, I also remember thinking that Andrea and I had each other and everything would be fine.

That Christmas. That rushed, weird and even sad little Christmas is still, to this day, one of my favorites. Andrea and I found ourselves caught between our own childhood Christmases, our life together as just the two of us and the boys that would fill up that tiny house and the next one with such joy and love. It was the scariest and most exciting Christmas of my life. While each Christmas with my boys and the Christmases of my childhood are wonderful and sacred, that Christmas 10 years ago in Bethlehem is the one that is burned into my memory to the extent that I sometimes wonder if everything that did happen could have really happened.

They Met…On the Internet (A York College Love Story)

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Scan0002Twenty years ago this weekend, I returned to York College of Pennsylvania following a few days home for fall break. It was a Tuesday, October 25. I went to my office at The Spartan, the college newspaper. I logged on to one of the computers and began chatting via Telnet with a girl I had recently become friends with.  We had a class together and were both on the forensics team, but our primary way of talking was through email and the chat client.

I liked her. I liked her a lot. I thought she was one of the prettiest girls on campus and the more I got to know her, the more I realized that beauty wasn’t just on the outside. While my confidence that fall was at an all time high, the written form of communication was where I was most comfortable, especially since I couldn’t believe a girl like that was interested in anything I had to say.

The truth is, I had crushed on her from afar for at least a year, even asking my roommates the prior fall if they knew her. Now, I wasn’t exactly a stalker, but I may have gone the long way to a destination just to keep her in sight for a few minutes.  Okay, maybe I was a stalker, but I was also sucker for her in her tennis skirt.

I don’t remember exactly what we were chatting about that night, but mid conversation, all the computers shut down at midnight. I forget if the network dropped or if we lost power or something like that, but our conversation was cut off (the IT guy in me still tries to analyze what happened).

I wasn’t ready to let the conversation go and I got it in my head that I could catch her before she left the computer lab. I grabbed my green jacket and went. I got about halfway there, when I noticed she was headed towards me. The midway point was under a small tree, dropping yellow leaves to the ground in front and to the right of the library.

From that moment on, our relationship changed. We talked more in person and went out of our ways to see each other. We spent time together and grew closer. As I mentioned, I often took the long way to a destination regarding her and that is a good metaphor for us. We both went the long way to get to that destination under that tree. Despite mutual activities and groups, our paths never crossed directly in the two prior years that we went to York College at the same time. We both had a lot of maturing to do before it was our time to arrive. When it was finally our time to arrive together, God flipped off the computers and sent us hurtling towards each other.

Three days short of five years later, fifteen years ago on October 23rd, we would again have a very meaningful encounter. However, instead of an unexpected one, it was a well planned event. Instead of being surrounded by the cool autumn air and yellow leaves, we were surrounded by friends and family (but also cool autumn air and yellow leaves). Instead of shorts and windbreakers, she was in a wedding dress and I in a tux.

The nearly five years that separated us from under that little yellow tree and us at that little altar were transformational (I think I am making up words now). A light year is a measure of distance rather than time and those five years, likewise, felt like a measure of distance from who we were to who we became. We went from being kids in college to kids pretending to be grown-up. There was a lot of turmoil in that distance, and even some distance in that distance at times. There were times of confusion and fear, much of which didn’t just disappear with our vows.

However, there was always love there filling that distance. I believe I loved her from that moment we met at the tree. And there was always laughter (oh God, do I love to hear her laugh) and respect for each other and our own dreams. At the very base and foundation of our love is our friendship.

I love playing golf with my brothers. I love going to the movies with my sons. I love going and grabbing a beer with my friends. However, Andrea will always be my first choice for doing those things with. Even when I had tickets to see the Eagles and Giants play, Andrea was the person I wanted to go with, even though she is an Eagles fan. She is my best friend. Our relationship started in friendship and it is the core of our love.

I talked about how time passes so quickly a couple of weeks ago when I was talking about the Orioles and it is the same here. I look at old photos of Andrea and I and it seems just a moment ago that the photos were taken. When I picture her and I under that tree on the York College campus, it’s odd that I don’t picture her and I as our 20 and 21 year old selves. I picture her and I as we are now, our 40 and 41 year old selves. I even have to look past my beer gut to see my foot nervously kicking the yellow leaves around, in my mind. I my mind, as I relive that early morning encounter, I pick out the spots in my peripheral where Benjamin and Matthew would be playing or hiding and wonder why they aren’t in bed. Somehow, in my mind, that moment and every moment since happened just a moment ago and all live together. And, yes, even the bad moments exist there. Yet, I know how much deeper our friendship and love runs than it did in all those moments because our friendship and love is a culmination of all those moments.

Our love is those leaves and our first kiss and 20 New Years Eves together (the only holiday we have been together for every year since we met) and graduations and train rides and broken down cars and break ups and an awkward engagement and too many baseball games and subway rides and youth groups and New York City in September and Hoboken in the fall and snowfalls and moving trucks and Spain in the Spring and marathons and the birth of our children and new jobs and no jobs and foreign countries and new houses and family events and first days of school and last days of school and bulldog puppies and children growing too fast and a beer gut growing to fast and savings accounts not growing fast enough and friendships and marriages and love and all the little moments in between that would take me another 15 years to write down.

And we are all those moments that have yet to be lived and loved.

Fifteen and twenty years have come and gone and I look forward with excitement to the next 20 years.

Thank you to all of you who have been part of these moments.

Happy Anniversary Andrea. I love you and everything you make me.

Just Another Day

May 11, 2014 Leave a comment

I wrote this at the start of my senior year in college for the college newspaper, in October 1994. 

SunriseAfter the long dark night, a faint glimmer of light appears low on the black horizon.  A chorus of crickets is replaced by an orchestra of birds.  They proclaim the birth of a new day.  The blackness hanging in the air turns to a dark blue.  The once blackened horizon is covered by a garment of orange and red.  It is the royal gown of the daughter of night.

Finally, like it has done for billions of years before, the sun rises, spreading its mighty arms and embracing  the vast  lands of its domain with its magnificent lights.  Morning has broken, and life stirs within its loving embrace.

Through a second-story window, the sun has cast one of her morning rays gently across the face of a tiny red- haired baby boy.  The small child stirs and opens his sky-blue eyes.  Like an angel spreading its wings, the baby spreads the corners of his mouth revealing a tiny but beautiful toothless smile.  His eyes open wide with excitement as he talks quietly with the sun ray in a language that only the two of them can understand.  Two hundred miles away, the little angel’s uncle thinks about him and smiles, knowing that he is going home soon to see him.

The sun spreads her rays through a classroom window.  A student stares down at her notebook, doodling as she waits for her professor to stop talking.  It is her last class on Friday, and she thinks about her plans for that weekend.  She is going on a road trip, visiting an old friend from high school at her college in Rhode Island.  It is going to be a long trip, but who cares… at least she will be away from college for a weekend.

In her doodling, a number appears followed by a date:  220 days, May 13, 1995.  She has to use her long dark hair to cover her face as her eyes light up and a huge smile takes control of her lips.  People would think she was crazy if they saw her smiling that way in her Spanish class.  Not much time left.  A guy next to her just happens to catch her smile.  He smiles also, thinking she was smiling at him…

In another part of campus, the sun casts its light across a white envelope with one of those clear plastic windows.  A young man peers into the envelope.  As he does so, he jumps for joy:  he will be able to buy plenty of beer tonight.  Just as he does so, a young lady stops to talk to him.  It’s the girl he has been flirting with since he first met her in his Geography class.  She asks him if he wants to study with her for the test next week.  It’s going to be a good day, he thinks.

With the sun burning on her back, a girl dressed in green sprints down the field carrying her field hockey stick.  Her entire concentration is on the small white ball that is rolling and bouncing along the grass towards a predestined rendezvous point ahead of her.  She starts her back swing and fires.  Another unidentifiable girl covered from head to toe in protective clothing dives to her right.  The small ball rolls just beyond the edge of her stick.  The girl in green shouts in joy as she is mobbed by her teammates.  Laughter surrounds them.

With the sun reflecting off his glasses, a man talks excitedly on a pay phone with his mother.  He’s telling her about the job he will have when he graduates in two and a half months.  His four and a half years at college have paid off.  Barely able to speak in his own excitement, he tells her about the black 1995 Camaro he is going to buy in January.  He tells her to tell Dad that he is getting in his car and is headed home.  He will be there in four hours with a bottle of champagne.  He tells her to be dressed nicely because he is taking them out to dinner.  Tears are now in his eyes.  His mother, her voice trembling in pride, tells him that she loves him.  He returns the sentiment, hangs up the phone, and jumps into his old, rusty Chevette.  He pauses, takes a deep breath and gently pats the dashboard of his car.  1995 Black Camaro, he thinks with a smile bigger than the Grand Canyon.

As the sun sits low in the western sky, two old friends talk comfortably on a small white bench beside the creek.  After weeks of fighting, they have settled their major problems.  A difficult road is ahead, but the worst is behind.  A peaceful silence falls upon them as they stare deeply towards the full moon that has risen early on the eastern horizon.  He finally turns to her and tells her that even in friendship, he will always love her.  They embrace.

Across the creek from them, a young man zips past on a green and black bike.  His Notre Dame hat sits a little crooked on his head.  As he rides through the center of campus, he thinks about tomorrow’s game, the laundry he has to do, and the fact that he has survived yet another stressful week.  The cool, crisp autumn air feels good after the long, hot summer. There is just something about it that makes him feel so alive and free.  As he reaches the peak of the hill going toward his apartment, his eyes are met with a fiery red, orange and purple sky.  He loses his breath. No matter how many he times he sees it, he is always impressed by an autumn sunset.  He pedals faster toward the sunset, the light reflecting off his face.  He smiles, and then thrusts his arms in the air, as if he were flying.  LIFE IS GREAT, he thinks.  “Thank You, God,” he says.

A Return To The Woods Of Life

I wrote this as a column for my college newspaper during my Junior year…about 20 years ago. It was about walking in the woods behind my house in Hopatcong, NJ. I can only hope that Benjamin and Matthew will one day find such a place to learn and play together.

Lake Hopatcong

It was Good Friday. The sun was shining and the air was cool and still. I could feel spring in my bones. I went down to the woods behind my house to walk with my father and play with my nephew.

To my nephew Kevin, the woods and the stream and the giant “climbing rocks” were all so brand new to him. I, however, once knew the place well. It is where I had spent much of my childhood. It was where I went when I needed to escape as I got older. It was the place that I had abandoned when I went to high school.

After my father decided to head back to the house with Kevin, I decided to try to find something that was missing in a place I had once called, “The Woods of Life”, in a poem written a long time ago.

The woods, for me, holds a special parallel to life. They serve as a parable to my views of life and a reminder of hope in the early spring. How? Let me explain.

The Dam: My friends and I used to spend a great deal of time trying to dam up this one part of the stream at the edge of the swamp. We figured that if we dammed it up, it would form a little pond where fish and other wildlife could live. We looked at it as a challenge.

We spent hours digging at the bank of the stream and dumping the mud and dirt on the dam which was made of everything from old wood to pieces of metal we found scattered around. But we could not stop the water. It would always find a way through the dam or around it. But we kept at it for what seemed like years. We were successful at making the stream wider, but we could never get the “pond” as deep as we wanted it. And anytime that we felt we had got it right, a rain storm would destroy the dam.

There are still pieces of metal and some wood there. The water runs through, not hindered by much. Looking at it on Friday, I would not have guessed that anybody had ever tried to dam up that part of the stream. I wondered why we had spent so much time at that one spot. I wondered why we had never given up. I wonder how such a huge failure to me and my friends now served to put a smile on my face as a warm feeling took over my body. I thought about it and came up with this conclusion.

Sometimes in life we become huge failures. Situations and our own bad decisions can hand us humiliating defeats. We may work very hard at something and give everything we have, yet sometimes everything is just not enough. However, we learn from those failures. It is the failures that teach us more about life. We take these bad times from our pasts and we refer to them in the future.

We also have to remember the old cliche: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game.” My friends and I did not dam the stream, but I have such good memories from our endeavors. Digging and splashing and laughing and planning all are etched in my mind fondly. We failed at the dam, but we had a damn good time failing.

A year or two after we had failed creating that dam, I made an attempt at another dam, just to prove that I could do it. Sometimes, we have to know when to give up, move on, and start over. I did. I moved up stream to an area with higher banks that could form a natural barrier. I then rolled huge boulders into place in the water. After placing a pipe between the rocks to regulate water flow, I piled thick mud and moss in the gaps of the rocks. The dam was about a foot or two tall, and it was a complete success. I took my previous failures and used them to succeed. Eventually, the dam became too successful and was partially destroyed by someone else to return the rest of the stream’s flow. Yet, even now, my dad had to build a little bridge out of old tires and trees so that my nephew could cross the once thin and shallow stream. I beat the stream.

The Swamp: In the woods, there is a swamp that spreads out over a relatively large area. Throughout it is scattered moss, covered islands of dead tree stumps or mud. In order to cross the swamp, you have to hop from island to island, hoping the island doesn’t sink. Every so often, you may slip and find yourself up to your ankles in mud or water. As you travel through it, it seems like it will never end. The other side is so difficult to see and dead trees lie all around. You can get confused and lost easily.

There are times when life seems like this murky swamp. Things seem bleak and it seems that hopes and dreams lie dead all around. Like the waters, life seems stagnant, and sometimes you cannot do anything but pray that you don’t fall into these waters. There are times when you don’t feel like hopping to another island because you are afraid, afraid of what the next step may bring. You don’t know if the next island will give under your weight or that you may not jump far enough and land in mud. It is this place in my life that I feel I am at now.

You know you cannot go back and sometimes you just want to stay in one spot. But you must move on. The swamps in life are stagnant and scary, but you have no choice but to continue on. You just have to realize that you will eventually find your way out. There is another side, a place where the footing is sure. A place where you can look back and feel proud at what you have accomplished.

The Hilltop: On the other side of the swamp in the woods is a steep hill that seems to rise above the tree tops. Climbing the hill is no easy chore. It is covered in dead leaves that may cause you to lose your footing.

But when you have made it to the hilltop, you can look out at everything around you. You can see clearly where you have been, and you can see what is ahead of you. On the other side of this hilltop, the stream flows smoothly and the water is crystal clear. The plants in the valley are lush and beutiful. From this hilltop, you can clearly see the beauty of the sunset. Being up on this hill is truly breathtaking.

In all our lives, we will make it to the hilltop. We may have to struggle through swamps and climb steep inclines, but eventually we will make it to the hilltop. We can look and see why we had to go through the swamps, and we can appreciate it. We can see where we are going. We can see the beauty of life and how wonderful it is. The waters are flowing clearly ahead of us. All we have to be willing to do is to climb that mountain and struggle through the swamp, because once you make it to the hill top everything is forgotten.

Although I believe I have a long way to go to get through this swamp that I am in now, I know something beautiful lies ahead of me. Although there are more struggles ahead, I know they will be worth it, and I can’t wait.

The woods of life are beautiful. They are constanly changing and growing. Like trees, dreams die but are quickly replaced by other trees. There are different paths and trails through life; which ones we take are completely up to us. Streams don’t always flow straight. They curve and bend. They run slowly sometimes and faster other times. This represents our hopes and our faith. There are going to be hills and valleys and swamps throughout our lives. We just have to muster enough confidence to make it through.

Perhaps one of the most insightful things I have heard lately came from my three-year-old nephew, Kevin. I went back down in the woods with him on Easter Sunday. He wanted to climb on these rocks. It soon became a tough climb for his little body but he kept on going. When I asked him if he wanted me to carry him, all he said was, “No, I am like the little train.” Then he continued climbing, saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” Perhaps that is all we need to do to get through the tough parts of life: Keep reminding ourselves that we can do it. Life is beautiful.

Categories: Observations, Prequel

Dear Little One, Part 2

April 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Below is the second of three “letters” I wrote to Benjamin in the month after we found out Andrea was pregnant.

December 9, 2004

Dear Little One,
Edgar very comfortableWell, after a whole lotta tests, we are fairly certain you are on your way, and we couldn’t be any happier or excited…or scared.  Your momma and I are getting ready to move to Bethlehem, which should be your first home.  Plus, Christmas is coming, so there is a lot going on.  It was funny, on Monday and Tuesday, I was so happy and just felt pure joy.  Now, I am still so happy, but overcome by worry.  I keep fearing that we will lose you and that this happiness will be brief.  Plus, your momma is experiencing a bad case of morning sickness that lasts all day.  Then, you big brother, Edgar, has a hurt leg and keep limping around.  These are anxious days and I think I’ll feel better when we get through them.

Not much going on the the world, right now.  George W. Bush is President, the Red Sox are World Series Champions and the Giants and Mets are horrible teams.  I wonder who you will root for…will you root along side your papa, or will you go another direction (you can’t root for the Yankees or I’ll disown you).  I wonder what you’ll be like and what you will look like.  I don’t think I can wait the nine months to see you!

Oh, by the way, from here on in, I will refer to you as Pudge.  You’ll have to ask your Momma why she decided to start calling you pudge.

Matthew Turns Five

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

image

Matthew entered our lives on a Friday, a day that began pretty normal.  I dropped Ben off at daycare and then Andrea and I grabbed a healthy breakfast of bagels and donuts.  Andrea was already scheduled for a C-section the following Tuesday even before we headed over to the doctors office for  routine a appointment.  It wasn’t long before the doctor told us that we had to go home, get our stuff together, call who we needed to call and get Andrea into the hospital because Matthew was going to join us that day.

Of course, we didn’t know it was going to be Matthew Robert.  At that point the baby might have been Marisol Rose.  Regardless, in an excited frenzy, we got home and started making calls. I had to call my boss to let him know my paternity leave had already started and we both had to call our parents.  We then headed to the hospital, where, over and over, Andrea had to tell the nurses that she had bagels and donuts for breakfast as the tried to gauge when she would be ready for surgery.

Instead of the traditional cigars, I had put a bunch of blue and pink Peeps into plastic eggs since it was just a week until Easter.  Of course, I thought I had a few more days and found myself packing the eggs in the hospital room, which led to a nurse panicking thinking Andrea was eating them.  It became obvious that we had some time, so I decided to go pick up Ben from daycare instead of asking our parents to do it.  When I told him that the baby was on its way, he was so excited.

With Benjamin causing mayhem in the hospital hallways and our parents nervously keeping watch of him, Matthew Robert Keenan was born in the early evening of March 30, 2007.  We had another beautiful healthy boy.  I honestly don’t remember much of the rest of the hospital stay.  Unlike with Ben, Matthew had no trouble feeding and did not have the same jaundice problems.  Not to mention, we were practically experts by then, instead of scared rookies.  Benjamin’s excitement, of course, was a new variable, but, we all handled it in stride.  Regardless, that day is on of the three happiest days of my life, and it makes me so happy just thinking about it.

I can’t believe that Matthew is five now.  I look at him and I see so much of that little baby in him, more so than I do with Ben.  The days of diapers and bottles and midnight changes all seem so foreign and far away now.  Now, we have these little men, who still dominate the centers of our lives.

While I remember Matthews birth, it’s hard not to think of our bulldog Edgar who died just five days later.  Before the boys, he was a huge part of our lives, dominating rolls of film and then flash drives.  We truly loved that dog and his death was sudden and painful. It’s unlikely that he’d still be with us today if he didn’t die then.  English Bulldogs, on average, live only to seven.  At five, Edgar was already showing signs of getting old.  We sometimes wonder if him going that day was God’s way of sparing him and us a longer, drawn out illness. Either way, in the perspective of our two little boys, I sometimes feel embarrassed to admit the strong emotions I had for a dog, but there is no denying that I did, and it took me a long time to get over him.  Of course, Matthew and Benjamin did help me with that.