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Dear Ambrose,

Happy 20th Birthday, son. I have a whole head full of things we were supposed to do today.  We would go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. I would probably have taken us to a Japanese steakhouse. Then we would have gone to Barnes & Noble to pick three new books. We were going to have a Left Handed Presents theme for your birthday party this weekend. It was a death to being a teenager type of year.

My mind is racing through everything we accomplished together last year. We only had 2 more things on our Todo list. You should be driving your car to your friends houses later. You should be listening to that same ‘the day you were born’ story. A lot of remorse for that Todo list.

There is a can of corned beef hash in the pantry. I would have made you a big ol’ breakfast for your birthday with all your favorites; corned beef hash, eggs with garlic, hash browns, and a big glass of Welch’s grape juice to wash it all down. Now, I have one can sitting lonely. I feel as if, like me, it is waiting for it’s purpose to be fulfilled. Sorry.

Mercy broke down crying 20 minutes after she awoke. I had to hold her for a long time until she could go back to her school work. Marley hasn’t said anything. That’s probably how she will be for the rest of the day. Sean woke up grumpy and ornery.

I’m sitting in the living room. Your sisters are supposed to be doing their school work. I am not allowed to grieve yet. I have to wait until Sean comes home so the girls will be distracted while I’m down stairs bawling my eyes out. For this moment, I am the mom who has it all together. This moment is a very long moment.

It’s your birthday. We should be having parties celebrating your existence all week long. We should be…

…but we are not. I am staring at your picture on the wall. It doesn’t answer me. I see the beautiful marble urn Jason picked out. Your body is burned to ashes and your burned up body sits patiently in the corner of my living room. This can’t possibly be a reality.

Reality it is. The morning and afternoon held me down and ran over me.  Your sisters were in top form. They were angry and fighting more than they normally do. There was spit, muffins, and M&M’s everywhere. I cussed and threatened to hit them over the head with random objects. I thought of you, and I tried to take away the seriousness while still being serious. I reflected upon the absurdity of that approach. It’s absurd for them to use aggression as a means of communicating their needs. We’ve always been working on that with them though, haven’t we Chickpea?

It’s like the four of us are threads that complete one whole tapestry. We are different pieces  of the one scene. Sometimes we were slick as silk. Sometimes we were soft and supple like kashmir. Sometimes we were as tenacious as spider webs. But you and me son, we’re not tied to one another. It’s more  a meshing of spiritual space and time and psyche. We are the same thread woven into the fabric of the Universe.

I thought I would lose my mind from missing you. I thought that today would have been more, I don’t know, dramatic. I thought I would die in my sleep. The day is not done yet. Maybe I should have made a party deal of it. That would have been disgusting. I really thought I would have spent the whole day alone with  you.

I always believed our relationship to be beyond mother/child. When you were conceived, I felt a part of me break off. It was the tiniest piece of me, but I felt it separate from my soul. I also felt a tiny wisp of a new spirit it me. You were so very tiny, yet you were so significantly an immaculate portion of myself. At that very moment I knew you existed, son; I devoted my last breath to your well being, so help me every God. You were the most brilliant one to come bless us with your sacred soul. I told that to everyone who asked me about my big round belly. I explained that I was chosen to be the mother of a prodigious child. The best part was that this child chose me to be his mother. I had a pretty big job to live up to.

We moved three times while I was pregnant with you. I worked up to three jobs at one time. A friend of mine sent me a random check for a thousand dollars. I adopted a tiny, long haired, tortoise-shell colored kitten. I named him Hyro. I was also reading the books Diamond Age, and Snow Crash to you in utero. It felt good to be just you and me. Larry had taken off as soon as he was let out of jail. Jason and I were on a good friend level again. It was summer. I had friends, family, and my prodigal son on the way.

Then you came! You came with flags and bells and whistles and banners for only me, you, Jason, and Aunt Bobbie to see. I didn’t want anyone else there during labor. It was the UofM v. MSU game that day. I watched Legend, the Beautiful People video, and the first snowfall of the year while I waited for you to engage in your journey to the other side of my womb.

You wouldn’t fit. My heart nearly exploded but you healed it. Surgically, you were removed from me.

Every single possible little thing that had anything to do with my precious Ambrose had to fall within my exceptionally high personal standards of child rearing. All of it paid off.

You insisted on being held upright, and if so would rarely cry.

When you cried you sounded like a motorboat.

You only cried when you were bored, or if I drank a carbonated beverage before breastfeeding you.

You were a perfect baby.

You were months advanced in everything you did. The older you grew the deeper and more profound your perspectives grew. Everyone was amazed to be near you. Everyone who got to know you at all could see that you had inner grace that would not be choked or restrained.

School was a relentless war everyday. There was a war between me and every school who wouldn’t protect you, or teach you on the level you were learning at. You fought to not fight the other relentless boys. There was fighting over your allergy. There was fighting over bullshit ADD suspicions. We fought them all with our words.

“Violence is what people resort to if they are not intelligent enough to solve a situation.”

Through every war we held our peaceful protest with honor. The more they tried to beat us down, the harder we clung to our sense of humor. We understood the fierce power of music. Ours, yours, was an ineffable inner strength.

We fought everything, son.

We fought to survive on our own.

We fought to be back together with Jason.

We fought to make our way in Ann Arbor.

We fought to recover from a divorce.

We fought our way in and back out of Colorado.

We fought homelessness again. Then I found a room, then a bigger room, then an efficiency, and finally a two bedroom with a balcony, and a kitten.

We fought against Cecil.

We fought open heart surgery while I was pregnant with your sister.

We fought Cecil.

We fought the trailer park.

We fought Cecil some more.

We fought Pinckney bullies.

We fought to survive.

We fought homelessness again.

We fought to accomplish your goals by the time you were 20 years old.

We were 62 days away from winning that goal.