Sunday, June 08, 2008

Last night Mom and I went to a small party to celebrate our friend MB's 5th birthday. As you can guess, she isn't really 5 years old. It has been 5 years since her transplant. And she is doing great. Her husband and our friend Hugh arranged it. He bought all of these birthday cards for 5 year old kids which was very cute.

I see MB a lot, but last night I asked her what life is like knowing that she almost died and that it is a bit of a miracle that she is alive. She told me that sometimes it is overwhelming. She also told me that there are times that she worries she may get really sick again. I cannot imagine what it is like to walk around with all that stuff peaking through every now and then. It must be a bit like how we've incorporated into our everyday lives the grief of you dying.

I was honored to be there last night for that incredibly special occasion. I also thought to myself going in that the night was about MB and I shouldn't "bring you up," even though of course the whole transplant thing makes me think of you and wish we could be having the same kind of celebration next month for your 8th anniversary. I didn't say the word "Henry" until very late near the end of the party when I was sitting talking to Hugh and MB. It was only because I have this need to talk about you and because I was reporting back on something that happened during the dinner.

A woman came in to the dinner late and sat down next to me. She explained to me that she and her husband were late in getting there because they were attending their daughter's dance recital at Walt Whitman High School.

And you know the one and only time I have been to Walt Whitman, the rival of my high school, Winston Churchill, was to drop you off for Bella's dance recital.

That whole day when you went with her family to watch her dance - I think you got dressed up in a jacket and bowtie - and sat there so attentively as she performed - is one of my fondest memories of you. I think Mom has written about that day for her book.

What I didn't mention to Hugh and MB was that I had just worked on this video of you for the garden dedication that was shown just two days earlier. I am glad the movie ends on the video of you going to Bella's house, also dressed up, ready for a date. I have to say that it is pretty adorable and hilarious that you gave Liane the flowers you bought for Bella.

I had wanted to invite Hugh to go to the garden dedication but Mom made me feel that it really wasn't an event for our friends who aren't part of the school - that it was something expressly for the JPDS community. She was right and I understood. But as I explained to her, Hugh is part of an incredibly special (to me, at least) and small group of Ari, Linda, Jake, Uncle Bill, Dr. Gillio, Dr. Wagner, Liane and Bella and a few others (who aren't family) who really, really knew you and really, really love you. The interesting thing about Hugh is that he is part of that group, but he never knew you when you were alive.

Mom and I agreed that the dedication ceremony provided a lot of folks who didn't know you when you were alive (but know of you) a chance to understand how extraordinary you were, and why G'veret Koss and your classmates wanted to create a garden to honor your memory.

I didn't speak to the crowd at the Garden dedication, but if I had I would have thanked your teachers, Mrs. Berliant and Mrs. Singer. We've been lucky to have them be teachers for you, Jack and Joe. I did say something to Mrs. Berliant when we went outside to see the Garden. She then told me a little story about you. She said that one time you came back to school after having been out sick or in the hospital for a number of days. You and your classmates were coloring. Someone said they needed a red crayon to complete their drawing. You immediately jumped up and offered them the red crayon you were using. That was you. That was your big red heart.

I don't know why all of the flyers I make with blue writing turn red when I put it on here. That is what happened with the program I made for the dedication ceremony. And though you didn't look all that great, your weren't purple!

Aunt Abby is kindly donating a bench for the garden. Mom and I asked Jane's brother Ted to make a sign for it like the sign he made for the Knob. I showed you that when we visited her and her kids in Cleveland back in April. Your grandparents are donating a birdbath. With all the plants, it is going to be quite something when it is all done.

Here are pictures of the designs for the signs.

I look forward to visiting your garden a lot. I think it will be a peaceful place to rest.

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