Saturday, May 24, 2003

Dear Henry:

I keep writing all of these notes to myself to remember to tell you stuff. I gathered a bunch up and will tell you what I was thinking. I am not sure if I've already gone over some of this, but here goes.

I called our phone the other day and no-one was home. I got our message. I think you recorded some of our better messages in the past. Well this one said,

Henry, Jack, Joe, Laurie and Allen aren't here right now, so please leave a message.

I was like, huh? Did I hear that right. So I called back. I have to be honest with you, I was a mix of confused and hopeful. Sure enough, when I listened very closely the second time the message said

Henry, Jack, Joe, Laurie and Allen aren't here right now, so please leave a message.

Way to go Mom. I guess you have a permanent outgoing message that you aren't home. These are the messages I am leaving you. I hope you can retrieve them. Instead of "Dear Henry" maybe I should just write, "Beep."

Wanna know something funny. We changed our phone company and I don't know how to get our messages. Mom does, but I don't know the phone number to call. I should get it from Mom. I am not very good about picking up the phone when it is ringing. I rarely pick it up. I think there are a lot of reasons. I think the first one is I don't neccessarily want to tell anyone how I am doing. A lot of people say, "How are you," as a way of being polite. I don't think they want me to be honest and tell them how I really am. But that might not be the case. Some people might really want to know. Maybe I just can't handle telling 'em the truth. There is this really good movie where they say, "You can't handle the truth." I don't know who can't handle the truth, me or the person calling.

The second reason I am not so hot for talking on the phone is that I have had some pretty bad phone calls that keep ringing in my ears. Two that are always in my head are (1) the time Mom called me in August when I was picking up Pop Pop Teddy at the airport to tell me she thought you were dead and (2) the call in December in Minnesota when Nana called me and said Mom called and I needed to get over to the hospital right away 'cause you were in trouble. Those calls sucked. Grandma didn't like it when I used that word, oops. I don't like the phone. Oh yeah, I thought of one last reason. I had to call places, like airlines and hotels and explain that we needed something, like a special rate or flight, and I had to say the words, "because my son is very sick," or "my son is dying." That was never easy.

I feel more comfortable writing than talking. I think much of it has to do with the fact that it's easier to write about tough things. You can't get too choked up on the computer. I used to think I was your personal Make a Wish Foundation, and would blast out letters and emails to people asking them to do nice things for you. I used to drop what I call the "H Bomb." The "H Bomb" was telling them what you've been through and that there was a possibility you'd die. How could anyone say no to the "H Bomb," to you. I couldn't do that on the phone or in person and not cry. Writing is safe. That is why I do this. I read a quote from a book that says, "I write as a constant exercise in longing."

You loved the phone. You worked it like a pro -- the mad dialer calling us whenever we went out. I gotta be more like you.

You'll be happy to know that Jack is very good about making sure you are still included in things. Mom said that she and Jack met some people today. Jack made sure Mom told them that he has another brother, Henry. He's a good brother, isn't he.

Mom and Jack and Joe are in St. Michaels. It is a long weekend. I am stuck at home cleaning out the back half of the basement. We are going to "finish" it and make it into another bedroom. I bet you would have wanted that room for yourself. I know you. It'll be cool when it is done. I wish I was with everyone else, though. I'm sad and lonely. I am listening to XM radio. We are having a special, 66 straight hours of Bruce Springsteen. One of the things that I want to start writing about are the things that I would have liked for you to have tried and liked as you got older. Stuff I enjoy that I hope you'd enjoy too. There is a Bruce Springsteen song, called Bobby Jean, where he sings about his friend,

We liked the same music,
We liked the same bands,
We liked the same clothes

* * *
Now we went walking in the rain talking about
the pain that from the world we hid
Now there ain't nobody, nowhere nohow gonna
ever understand me the way you did

I think you and I were a lot alike. I have a feeling you would have liked Bruce Springsteen. Wow, this is a cool coincidence. The Devil with A Blue Dress Medley is playing right now as I write this. For me, the 4 minutes and 35 seconds of that song is simply the greatest music ever recorded. Sheer ecstasy (that means great joy). You go on a roller coaster ride and get whipped around and go up and up and rocket down and go up again. Aunt Jen bought the album (No Nukes) when we were in high school. She liked it for Jackson Browne, but I loved Bruce Springsteen. I played it over and over. Now I always play it when I am feeling good or when I am sagging and need a boost. I wish I could have watched you dance to it like you did with Out of Habit and your other favorites. We are going up to New Jersey to see Bruce Springsteen play later this summer. In her eulogy, Mommy said you were the encore at a Springsteen show. We are going to be the happiest sad people ever.

Speaking of sad, a few weeks ago I was reading one of Lisa's columns in the newspaper about Take Your Kids to Work Day. I mentioned it to Mom and she told me that she was extremely sad when the reminder for that special day went out at her office. She told me that you couldn't wait to be 7 years old so you could go to Mommy's work with her. I didn't know that. There are days of the year now, like Mother's Day and your birthday and the day you died, when I know I need to give Mommy extra hugs. I need to add Take Your Kids to Work Day. I know you would have wanted to go to Mom's office, but my office is really neat, too. It looks like Star Wars and Star Trek. There are a lot of lights and things, and you can be on the radio. I am going to bring Jack in so he can be on the XM Kids channel. I think they know him because he calls in all the time.

Here is something I have been meaning to tell you. The other day Michael came over to play with Jack. Michael loves Jack like he loves you. Michael says it helps him to play with Jack when he is thinking about you. I think this is kinda funny; Michael says "sweet" about everything. Everything. No matter what I say, he says, "Oh, that's sweet." I have a feeling that you'd be saying "sweet," too. Michael is totally cool.

Joe update. He no longer wants anything to do with the Wiggles. He is all grown up. Now all he wants to do is watch animal videos. He watches all of the National Geographic "Spin" movies that you and Jack loved. He is just like Jack in how much he loves animals. He is at the point where we are working on all of the animal sounds, remember "Baa, like a sheep, Moo, like a cow, Oink, like a pig, Oooo, Oooo, like a monkey. What is the difference between apes and monkeys. Right, monkeys have tails and apes don't.

Hey, I love you, you crazy monkey.

Ooooo, ooooo


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