I'm working on our yearly photo album. I've always enjoyed getting a whole year's pictures bound in one slim volume-- a family yearbook that we look at again and again. Last year's was tough, but at least we had Jack for 8 of the 12 months represented. That yearbook looked pretty normal, until it didn't.This year's is a struggle that I'm just trying to power through before my online coupon expires.
My heart is heavy.
It has made me think of baby books. As the third child in four years, I took great offense upon discovering that my own baby book was nearly empty. I took it upon myself in first grade to rectify the situation by gluing in random pictures and filling in the blanks to describe myself. For "HAIR" I wrote: "Pretty" instead of brown; and for "EYES" I wrote "Nice" instead of blue. My mom got a huge kick out of this. I drew, in ink, a portrait of my family, including our dog, cat, and guppies. I also drew fart bubbles coming out of my sister's rear end, so I guess my love for potty humor and my jealousy toward my older sister started young.
For Jack's baby book, however, I was on the case! As the first child, he had my undivided attention and resources. We also had no cable tv, blogs, smart phones or high speed internet to lure me away from my glue sticks, or Pinterest to intimidate me into creative paralysis.
So page after page is filled with lists, cute anecdotes, ticket stubs, folded paper party hats, class photos, and certificates. I hoped that someday Jack, or at least an interested wife or child, would pore over his well-documented cuteness.
And now it sits here, to what purpose?
To mock us about what should have been? While his friends get facial hair and all we get are memories?
I've spent some time this morning crying and looking over his book. I know that if it has been a while and I need a good cry, looking at pictures helps me get there fast. Videos are still almost too painful to watch. I wondered whether Jack had even seen his baby book, but I was pretty sure he had, because he loved things like that.
I smile through tears when I see he has indeed read it, like mother like son, taken it upon himself to pencil in a few additions.
He must have been 8 years old because where I had left off writing down Halloween costumes at age 6, Jack had added in sloppy cursive:
"Age 7: Darth Vader
Age 8: Zombie Doctor"
On the page about the origin of his name, I had left a blank:
Your name means:___________________
Jack added: "Successor, Given by God."
Given by God?
Given by God.
Given by God!
"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"
It's a choice. Every. Single. Day.