Saturday, February 15, 2003

Dear Henry:

I was taking Jack home from school the last Thursday night and we had a really good conversation. I was telling Jack how I watched a video David Segal made of him and friends eating a meal in Viet Nam that included cobra. Jack reminded me of the photo that Benjy sent him of the snake charmer in Morocco and the cobra. Jack said he wanted to eat cobra sometime. Ick. He likes trying new things and definitely is more adventurous than me (you and Jack did things by the time your were 6, like ride an elephant, that i haven't done in my whole lifetime). Jack explained that he is an omnivore, while Mom is an herbivore. I asked if he thought you were a "chipovore." You know something; we still haven't gone to Cactus Cantina. The other day I went by the Cactus Cantina that is in another part of town, Adams Morgan. It isn't called Cactus Cantina. It is called something else. I forget. I kept wanting to take you there as a treat, but I didn't get the chance.

Jack drew this in school last week. It says,

Dear Henry.
You were the best brother ever. I'm finally 6.
Love Jack

Also, on that drive home Jack showed me how he learned from you how to meditate. He sat in the back seat with his legs crossed, his elbows resting on his knees and making the "ommmmmm" sound. Mom and I saw your meditation buddy, Dr. Mendelson, out on a date with a boy a few weeks back. I'm sure she still loves you. We stopped and said hello. She introduced us to her date as "Henry's parents." That was nice.

Do you remember how Dr. Mendelson wanted you to speak to a class of medical students and/or Residents at Georgetown hospital and take their questions about what it is like to be a patient? You would have been awesome at that. By the way, I found Bob the Builder, Rocket Power and Dora the Explorer Bandaids at Wal Mart in Easton. I will drop them off at the clinic this week. Last week Mom spoke to a class at Georgetown about how we tried to have a baby that would have given you new blood. I went with her to help fill in the blanks. The class we spoke to was in Georgetown's school of ethics, which might be described as people trying to figure out what is right and wrong when it isn't obvious. Some people who try to think only with their minds while not listening to their hearts believe what we were trying to do in New York all those months to have a baby that would have had the perfect kind of blood to save your life was wrong. Mommy was trying to help the students in the class to understand what we did was right. When they see pictures of you that we bring, they understand.

I am not sure you know that Mom is writing a book about what we did in New York and how you were such a great kid. I was trying to help her write a letter to explain the book, and I suggested saying how on your death certificate, which I told you about earlier, it says you died of "Fanconi edema." Of course they meant Fanconi anemia. But everyone should know (and the people who are not thinking straight should know) that the death certificate was wrong. The real reason you died is because we weren't able to have that baby. Nothing makes me and Mommy sadder than knowing we failed.

We went out to St. Michaels for the weekend. It is a long weekend because of the President's Day holiday. It started snowing on Saturday and it is still snowing this morning. It is Tuesday. There is so much snow here that if Joe went outside it would be up to his eyeballs. I dug our car out as much as I could and then we needed a snow plow to come to the house to dig us a path down the driveway to the street. Now we can get out to Church Neck Road. Mom walked into town yesterday and told me that Railroad Avenue isn't plowed. I cannot help thinking how worried I'd be if you were out here and we wouldn't have been able to get to the road and the hospital if we needed.

On Saturday, Jack and I went to the movies in Easton. You know that theater where we saw Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2. We saw Jungle Book 2. It was pretty good. You would have really liked it. I thought it was neat that the father figure in the movie said to Mowgli, "You deliberately disobeyed me." Do you remember who also said that? Right, Mufasa in The Lion King talking to his son Simba. I always tried to say it in the same deep voice but I wasn't as good at voices as you were. In fact, the voice of Mufasa is the same actor who voiced the evil Darth Vader in Star Wars. You know who can do Darth Vader's voice, Uncle Bill.

They reprised (that means played again) a lot of the music from the first movie, 'cause it's so good. You'd have been psyched to hear Colonel Hahti's March, the Elephant Song. When you were younger we would play that song over and over and over on the CD player in the car. If you weren't happy for some reason, I would just repeat that song and you were in heaven. Interestingly, Jack didn't like it. He may have been scared or sick of hearing it. I don't know which.

Remember how we used to sleep in the breezeway together in the house at St. Michaels. I cannot remember exactly why we slept apart from everyone, but it'll always be a special memory for me. This morning I was sitting in the strong sunlight in the breezeway reading a book that was written by someone who went to the Gan. He's a grown up now. It is a very funny book. From time to time I look out the windows at the swans in the cove. It's bitter cold out there but their feathers keep them warm. I try not to look too long at the swans because they are very beautiful and beautiful things make me cry. You're so beautiful. Crying comes very easily to me still. Disney songs and Kids on Broadway CDs are pretty cry worthy. That's kinda pathetic, but I am very raw from you dying. But I'm not crying all the time.

Check out this smile. It's real. It isn't that I've forgotten you. My goal is to go from crying when I am thinking about you, to smiling and laughing when I remember you.

I want you to know that Joe is growing into a fine little man, and a good younger brother. Brother Joe has the most interesting obsession. He loves brushes. As much as you love Pokemon and Jack loves building forts on the couch, Joe loves hair brushes. He holds as many as he possibly can in his tiny hands, and from time to time he brushes his hair with one. Maybe he'll be a barber when he grows up. Who knows.

Although he holds as many brushes in his hands as possible, he puts everything else he finds in the sink or the trash can. It reminds me of the way you used to "squirrel" away all of your little tchotchkes in every nook and cranny of the house,

Joe looks a lot like you when you were his age. What do you think. I think, like you and Jack, he is a very handsome boy. This morning Joe climbed up to the top bunk in the kid's room here and bonked his noggin hard on the safety railing. He has a big bruise on his forehead. Now he is looking a lot like you.

The neat thing is he is really different from you and Jack in many ways. The most obvious to me is that he does not like rough-housing. I cannot pick him up and throw him around like I do/did with you and Jack. He gets very unsettled once he is off the ground. Like you and Jack, he loves to dance. When we put on The Wiggles, he bends his knees and goes up and down. He'll also rock back and forth from one leg to another. He also does this little Flashdance (that's an old movie) thing where he jogs in place. As of last week he added moving around in a circle to his dance repertoire. Joe also is different from you because he doesn't get calmed by me holding his hand or stroking him. I want to tell you about this one time when we were up in Martha's Vineyard taking a small breather before going to Boston Childrens for hand surgery. You were agitated for some reason - you probably sensed a surgery was on the horizon - and we couldn't calm you down. So I put you in our car and drove all over the island while holding your hand. It took some doing to twist my shoulder, wrist and elbow backward to hold your hand, but I did it for miles and miles until you fell asleep and my arm felt like it was going to fall off.

Joe likes to be near Jack. That makes me and Mom feel good. I don't know if he realizes you're not around. He's gotta. I am a little worried that when he hears the name Henry later on he'll think of Henry the Octopus, who is a character on The Wiggles. I wonder why there was Henry the Penguin on Oswald, Henry on Digimon and Henry on Beyblade. Everyone loves the name. Someone who Mommy and I spoke with told us that you, Mr. Henry, will be a family story that Joe will know and share; but for Jack you are the story of his life. Jack was very cute with Joe last night. I took some video of it. I have a lot of good video of you and Jack together. I don't know if I have any of you and Joe, and we have only a few photos of the two of you. I wish for Joe and for me that I had taken more. I didn't know you were going to die.

I found this photo of us from the beach. I love it. I love you. I think about you in the snow and the sun and the rain and the night. You're my man.

Love, love, love. XXXXOOOOXXXOOO


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