And she loved a little boy very, very much, even more than she loved herself.
December 15, 2018
So, my dear Jason, the nurse showed you to your dad and then to me, and she took you away to wrap you up and do all the little tests they do on babies. I was so upset because I wanted to hold you right then, but since you needed a little oxygen, they took you to the neonatal unit first. You were 21-inches long and weighed six pounds, four ounces—about a pound or so less than you would have weighed had you been born on time.
When they brought you to me for the first time, Lou Forest and Dave Layman were in the middle of the 6 pm news. At the end of the show, Lou announced, “Chris Cutler, wife of our show’s producer, Mike Cutler, gave birth to a boy this evening. She’s had some problems, but we’re happy to say the baby and mom are fine tonight. Congratulations to all of them.”
Dave added his congratulations and joked, “I heard they’re going to name him after us—David Louis. Or is it Louis David?” Taken off guard by the comment, Lou just looked at Dave and said he didn’t think so. They both just laughed. The whole time, your eyes were open.
Your eyes were always open; when they brought you in later that evening, I could see you looking at the lights flickering on the television. When they took your newborn photo the next afternoon, your eyes were open. I rarely saw you close your eyes during the week we were in the hospital.
You didn’t realize you were in the hospital a week after being born, did you? It wasn’t because you were sick; I was. I developed an infection and had to stay in until December 23. I suppose it was a good thing in the end because it gave me time to learn how to do all the things most new moms learn at home—how to give you a bath, how to swaddle you, how to pick you up correctly, and how to take care of your wrinkled skin.
Wrinkled skin? Oh, yes. Because you were so late, your skin had the look that everyone’s skin gets when they’ve been in water too long. The skin all over your body was dry and cracked, so we had to rub Vitamin E oil all over you a few times a day. I was afraid you might slip from my hands.
When we finally took you home, we could not put you down. We introduced you to Bunk, and she immediately had to be wherever you were. She slept under your crib or bassinet, and if you squeaked one syllable, she ran to me and back to you. That first night, you woke up two times, and she paced around the bedroom while we fed you. She would settle down once you fell asleep.
The next evening, Christmas Eve, we kept you up until 10:00 or so. When I woke before you, I looked at the clock and woke your dad. “Michael! Check the baby. It’s almost 5:30.” We both went to your crib, which was in our room, and you were stock still. “Oh, God. Something’s wrong.” I kicked the crib, and you jumped a little.
“He was just sleeping,” your dad said. He didn’t admit it, but he was afraid, too. What baby sleeps through the night when he’s nine days old? Well, my dear child, you did. You slept through the night that night and every night after that—well, except for the night you came into our room at 3:00 am, flipped on the light, and told us you had to go to the potty. We were blessed.
We are blessed.
I am blessed.
I’m not going to tell you that everything was always perfect, even though I wanted it to be. I had a hard time growing up; I wanted better for you. I know I didn’t make it easy at times. I know you thought, and rightly so, that I wanted you to be that perfect child. Life, however, is never perfect; by its own limitations, it cannot be perfect.
And that’s okay. There are always curves in the road, cracks in the glass, splinters on the floor, bumps on the path. If we let them, these imperfections are what make life interesting, keep us all growing, keep us learning, keep us awake and aware and alive.
I love you, love having you as a son, love the woman you have married. I am proud of you, proud of who you are, proud of what you have become. You are intelligent and strong, sarcastic and funny, gentle and kind. You are practical and responsible and impatient just like your father, and you have his horrible sense of direction. You worry too much and love dogs and cooking just like your mother, and you have her common sense.
Somehow, 40 years have disappeared. I want them back. I want to hold you in my arms again. I want to pick you up and swing you around. I want to sing our silly made-up songs and dance in the kitchen and do somersaults like we did so long ago. I want to sled down the hill in an old computer paper box. I want you to tell me that you’re cute sometimes and that you pulled a bean out of your ear and that if I don’t have money I can just write a check. I want to throw you in the stroller, strap on my roller skates, and glide through the streets of Bexley together. I want that time back.
It’s not going to happen, is it? Instead, we’ll continue to walk down the road—straight or curved, and I’ll continue to hold onto those memories, though, because you are my son. And I love you.