He is taller. As tall as my wife. When none of Jake’s friends are around he still slips his hand into mine. We will walk down the street holding hands. “Dad, I don’t want to grow up.” For those brief moments I flash backward: Jake sleeps in my arms. It is the first night of his life. His five macaroni sized fingers grasping my pinky. As we walk now, his long digits envelop my hand. I struggle to push away the thought of my boy as a man.
The spring season draws to a close. The days grow considerably longer in the Northwest. 10:00 pm is sunset. Jake and I often find ourselves in my two-seater truck at magic hour. It is my favorite time of the day. The truck windows are down and occasionally the dwindling sun glistens across his forehead. In that instant, I see my little Jake running to meet me down a long hallway. I see his cherub face looking up from his crib. Cut to: Jake in his “grown-up” bed. Pint sized Jake jumps on his mattress, excited for snuggles.
Snap – back. We are in the truck and the burnt orange-hues swipe across his forehead as his hair ruffles from the wind of the open window. In this moment, I see the Man. The Man he is becoming: a large heart, an enchanting smile, bushy hair and wonderful good looks.
I want Jake to stay frozen in time. As we walk together laughing we chat about Zach Galifinakis. I realize in that moment I will soon be able to turn Jake on to the humor of Animal House and the mastery of The Godfather. I’ve worked hard to teach him how to “watch” films and “hear” music. He just saw Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life.” After the film finished Jake was pensive. “Dad the film was like visual poetry.” Exactly. Hmm… There is a whole new world for us to discover together.
I am amazed. How did I become a father to such a remarkable boy? Fifteen years ago all I could hear the Doctor say was “you might never be able to have children.” That day, his hollow statement echoed off the antiseptic linoleum floor straight into my broken thirty-four year old heart. Miraculously, here I am now, zipping toward the fading sun in my 1996 Toyota truck listening to my sweet Jake loudly belt back CSNY “Helpless Hoping” with perfect pitch, word for word. I think how fortunate I am. How I need to fight everyday to live life with grace and gratitude.