Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I bought Joe a book that I remember liking when I was a kid. It is called "Suppertime" with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang.

I really, really liked it when I was a kid, but honestly I was a little disappointed when it came to reading it to Joe. It wasn't as great as I remember it. Some things are like that. The book is just a bunch of little sayings. I seem to recall there being a Peanuts saying, but it isn't in that book, that "Happiness is a Warm Blanket" or something like that. I think that Love is wanting to share stuff with someone.

Last month I went to this city called Las Vegas. I stayed in a hotel that has lions in the lobby. The lions hang out in a habitat that has glass walls and even a glass floor. You can walk underneath the lions. It was totally cool. I really wanted Joe to be able to see the lions that close. He would have really enjoyed it.

I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Cal Ripken when I was in Las Vegas. I showed him the photos of the two of you and the newspaper article that was written about your visit. I had a lot of trouble not crying when I was telling him about it. I told him how great it was for you to have been able to sit and talk about Pokemon with him. He is a really nice guy. He is doing something with where I work so maybe I'll get to see him again.

Mommy and I went to Uncle Poopy's 40th birthday party. It was kinda like the Cal Ripken thing again. I knew that if I opened my mouth to tell Bill how much he means to me that tears would fall right down my cheeks. So instead I listened to everyone else tell him how special he is and how great it is to know him so long. I sent him powerful brain waves to let him know how I feel. I guess that is kinda funny considering at his wedding I said in my toast that every single day you need to tell the people you love that you love them. It isn't enough to show them you love them you need to tell them, too. I don't know why that is, it just is. Jack said to Mom the other day something like "okay I get it already -- you can stop telling me you love me so much."

Mom's 40th birthday is coming up in another few weeks. I got her the best present. I cannot wait to show you pictures. I hope she like it. I also got her the best Valentine's Day present.

It is just like this one except it is green, like her car. I think she was really surprised. Her life has been so hard - but happy - that I really feel like I need to get her the most extra-special things in the world that make her smile a lot. Remember how you always needed to get a gumball from the one like this at Blockbuster. The one I got Mom takes quarters. I am hoping that will keep Jack and Joe from going gumball crazy.

Mommy had an idea about one of the rooms that is going to be added to the back of our house.

She wants to put an old fashioned candy store in the room and call it Sugar. She is going to make it a really fun place to be. I told her it is a great idea but she needs to take Jack and Joe to the dentist for the rest of their lives. I am not going to do it. I bet when the candy store is finished Mommy will be happy and a little sad. I am sure she would have wanted to share it with you.

Usually at these big birthdays, like someone's 40th, people make speeches or they do movies. I don't think I will be able to say anything at all. It'll be too hard because I'll think of you and I won't be able to talk. I have to look into something I can do that will be nice but doesn't require me to cry.

On Sunday we went to JPDS. They are filming a movie for the school and they wanted Mom and me to talk about you and the school. I just sat there next to Mom and let her talk. She was great. She started to cry a little but I told her she was doing great and should just keep going.

Then on the following day we went to a parent teacher conference at the Gan with Cheryl. She told us that Joe is doing great. She said that he has a very good sense of humor. That is a really good and almost a grown up thing. It made both Mom and me think of you. The two of you are so alike. I asked Mom the other day if she thought Joe would have turned out so much like you if you had lived. I wonder if there would have been room enough under one roof for two cute, funny guys who knew they were cute and funny. Jack is very funny but in a different way. Joe, like you, makes faces and does funny things, while Jack tells jokes.

At one point Cheryl asked us about Joe and you. He talks about you in class and Cheryl just wanted to know what we tell him. Mom explained that we tell Joe that you were his brother but you died. Cheryl said that he is getting near the age when kids are very curious about death. I guess he has a big head start on the other kids in his class.

Mom says what breaks her heart the most is when Joe (often) tells her how he wants you to come to our house to play. The other day Joe asked me if you were still dying. I like that he is aware of you. I am glad that I am doing this so he can read it when he gets older and know you. I wish I had done this while you were alive, though. I was telling someone this weekend that I think it is really interesting that nowadays we can capture so many photos and videos of the people we love and have them to look at after they die. Before, people had only the pictures in their minds, unless they were movie stars. Now if anyone dies we can watch a movie of them everyday if we want.

Mom and I have been working on the Hope for Henry Foundation. Aside from all the great stuff it does, it is just so nice to be able to say your name every day and look at pictures of you. There is a picture of you on all the brochures and other stuff. We even made a website that talks about the Foundation and you, and has a whole bunch of pictures. I know the kids are enjoying the gifts. We ask them afterwards and they tell us great things.

We bought another portable DVD player for us. Funny thing is that I don't have much interest in it. My life used to revolve around the one we bought for you, buying DVDs and keeping it in good running order.

When Mom had her idea about the candy store, I had this idea about putting together a small book about fathers whose kids have died. What made me think of it was reading this book by a doctor who doesn't live too far from here. His name is Gordon Livingstone and two of his sons died. One was older and one was just about your age and died like you, after a bone marrow transplant. The book was very good and I even ordered another one of his books that is just about his sons' death.

I think my book would just feature a page or two for each dad to tell the story of how he was able to live his life after his kid died. Right when someone dies you don't know how or if you want to go on living. But most people do. I think it might be helpful for some people to read about that. It might not be helpful right when your child dies but maybe a few months out. It could be regular dads like me, and some famous ones. That would help sell the book.

I think it is interesting that there are a lot of famous rock and roll stars who have had kids die. Eric Clapton -- he's kinda old now and having another kid --, who I have mentioned to you before, and this guy Robert Plant, who was in a great band, Led Zepplin. You know the Beatles -- Led Zepplin was after them and really good too. One thing I will tell you about at some point is how David and Jeffrey and I got into a little bit of trouble with the Jewish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It has come a long way since the meetings that you sat in. Jeffrey and David are so smart and funny that I am sad that we don't get to have those meetings anymore.

Speaking of music, that is another way Joe is a lot like you. Most mornings we drop off Nina, David and Jack at JPDS, and then Joe and I head over to the Gan. It is nice to have this alone time with him. He loves listening to XMKiDs on the radio, and always wants to call up and ask to hear "Piderman" which is this great version of the Spiderman theme by a guy named Michael Buble. You and Jack always listened to the Ramones version. I never had the one from the cartoon. Joe also asks for "Dogs Out," which is "Who Let the Dogs Out." I remember when I bought that for you and Jack in Minnesota. We turned it up loud and had a dance party. Joe also loves Blues Clues. We listen to the CD that I bought for you and Jack. "Things I Love to Do" is my favorite song off there. I have turned Joe onto it too, and he can now sing along.

Another way he reminds me of you is that when we walk into the Gan in the morning he says hello to both of the guards. He is very sociable. He says hello to everyone. We are always there very early so we go down to the Gan space and play catch with the football. Do you remember Natalie, who was in your class. Her brothers, Robbie and Matthew, are there early too and they play catch with us. I love Mom, Jack and my job, but maybe the most fun part of my day is playing with Joe before school. When it is time we walk into the classroom and Joe walks in very close right behind me trying to stay hidden from Cheryl, Jane and Ian, who is the helper like Big D - Dennis was in your class. When he is ready or when he sees someone else playing, Joe comes out from behind me and gets busy with blocks, or trains or animals or whatever the arts and crafts thing for the day is. After a little bit I tell him that I have to go and I get sent off with a huge hug and a smack on the lips. I always feel good after that.

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