Happy Birthday Babybaby


The lightest shackle I’ve ever worn

We talk all the time, but I seldom write to you anymore. You know how I am, better than anyone; I need to see things written down once in a while, and as you know you’ve been all over me lately. So here are a few of your favorite songs and an update from planet Earth.

It’s been five years. I say this to remind you, I’m not sure how time works over there. One thousand nine hundred forty six days on this side, since last I kissed you. I’ve felt you since, but I don’t know what you can feel from me. I know when you have guided me, kissed me, and slapped me on the back of the head. You can take that last bit a little easier, I’m developing a bald spot.

Autumn is doing well, she’s been outside a few times but prefers her perch at the window. After you left she allowed other people to see her, Abby came up for a drink and Autumn walked right up to her just a week after you left. She’s been sleeping with me the last few weeks (Autumn silly), I’m pretty sure you put her up to it.



Everybody else has moved along, Carlo just moved to North Carolina, I can’t believe he’s in his forties now and already semi-retiring. Coop is incredible, I saw him last year. Mark never showed up for the things you saved for him (I still have them), but I’ve kept an eye on Gino, he’s doing great, you would be so proud. Kyle is getting by, he had some problems but seems to have pulled out of them. I haven’t heard a word about Dominic, he only wanted to harass you, not me. I saw Uncle Tommy a few times, he’s been with you a couple of years now. Rocky called a few times, but I don’t think Catherine liked what I said about her in the book. My kids haven’t changed, Nolan would still be your favorite, he’s grown into a solid man, with a bit of his dad’s crazy. I spent a few weeks with my Grandson Tommy a couple of years ago, you would love him.

I started driving again, living in Jersey makes it a requirement. You know how I feel about Jersey babe, but I’ve met some nice people, you would love this place (not the town, but the property is wonderful). This weekend I was planning to drive to upstate New York, taking some time to see the leaves change and visit Karen, the woman whose husband passed of pancreatic cancer the November before your surgery. That trip has been postponed, so I’ll probably just drive North until I see some nice trees. I get down to Delaware County occasionally, my friend Buddy plays at Tom and Jerry’s on Fridays, and I see glimpses of you there. I drive past the old place but haven’t stopped to see if Jen still lives there, but Jay’s is still in business. I stopped into Mazza’s a few months back, Mimi and Baba have moved back to Lebanon,  they sold the place to some Asians, probably the same family from the 10th St. Cafe. Tarik is living in Jersey somewhere. Last time I saw Mimi I had put on some weight and she said how happy you would be. I’m down under 130 today. I talked to David and Jackie a few times when I was thinking of moving back to Philly, but there’s nothing there for me. There’s nothing anywhere without you.

I’m not Doctor House anymore, but I still carry the cane you gave me from time to time; I get to board first when I fly if I’m using it that day. The MS has stayed in the background, I’m a little wobbly lately but there has been a great deal of stress. I don’t wear ties anymore, and haven’t been called at “the most inconvenient moment” by a technician in a different time zone since you were here.

I’m working meat into my diet again, I’m sure being a vegetarian had you scratching your head, although I did eat a horse steak in Belgium. I developed some vegetarian recipes even you would have liked though, and everything you taught me carried me through cooking for Lieve’s family.

You know how my relationships have gone. Don’t slap my head again, you know I thank you for everyone you have sent. I knew there was no one like you, yet you realized I must fill the vacuum you left with something, it’s not working. They don’t understand, saying “I can’t take anymore” where you would have said “more.” Apparently I love “too much.” I couldn’t believe it either but it appears to be the consensus, other people don’t love each other the way we do, and apparently most people are not as open about it as we are. We never did anything halfway. Except for now, I’m here and you are not. I see glimpses of you, and am confused.

I’ve been listening to different music, you live in the chords of the music we shared. I’ve been playing more this last month, you know what that means. Buddy plays a lot of our songs, making Tom and Jerry’s all the more spooky. And no, I haven’t heard from any of those people lately, but I have been considering a change of scenery. I found a new vocalist, Sharon Van Etten, not your style but I think you would like her, she has your edge.  I saw Neil Young over the summer. I wonder, with all the lives out there, if mine were the only cheeks running with tears through “Hurricane.” I’m in this weird place, feeling a loss most unique, a “you don’t know how I feel” anger, and alternately knowing others must have similar losses from their own perspectives. It’s not the kind of thing you talk about. Except to you. We talked about everything.

There have been so many beautiful moments I wanted to share with you. There have been dark ones during which I needed you to lean upon. The parts you left behind got me through each. Your faith was well placed, I am still the man you loved, I have remained a gentleman and gentle man. There is a field nearby I can wander through, the wildflowers up to my chest, I think of you saying you wanted to run through the tall grass and I am with you, the sun on my face like the warmth of your kiss. This time of year the tops of the flowers have an unearthly purple tint, it is what called me to the field originally.



I don’t drink much anymore, I switched to beers while I was married to the Belgian woman, she was a lot of fun, I know you sent her. I’m moving back to wine, winter is coming and you would love the fireplace here, accented with a hefty St. Emilion. I don’t think I’ll be drinking Chateau Margaux without you, but there will be some of your favorites in my cellar. Stop by and hold me by the fire.

I don’t often think of you in the hospital, but I did the other night. It was worse than reality, in my memory you are yourself, your body’s health mirroring your spirit’s. Why are these things happening to my babybaby? I know what the images actually were, but I don’t “see” them in my mind. I recall the radiologist thinking I was your son, but the memories I see are of my beautiful girl in pain.

We discussed life apart at length, and sometimes I think you wanted me to appreciate you more through your absence. I could not appreciate you any more than I already did, and although I’ve done some good things and touched some lives since you left, we always did better work together. Everything was better together and I’m getting a little tired of that fact being thrown in my face repeatedly. I still look both ways before crossing the street, but I’m ready to be with you anytime. Just hold out your hand.



6 comments on “Happy Birthday Babybaby

  1. Mike R says:

    What a well-written post, Blake. I’ve been delighted at your spurt of writing, recently, as you are one of my mentors. You have the ability to write meaningful sentences that don’t take a paragraph, one of my weaknesses.

    Most of us who have known you have learned more about Emma since her passing than we knew when she was alive. Not that you didn’t write a lot about her then, for you did. But maybe we didn’t listen as well as we did after her death. Or maybe it is the meaning of her to you became so much clearer with her loss.

    Whenever I am allowed the privilege of sharing your thoughts on Emma, I can’t help but think that it is true that when a man and woman are joined there is a spiritual connection established by God, himself. A shadow or reflection of the relationship that exists between God and Christ. And even after a death, the living still feel that connection, as you obviously do, even thought death is the end of the marital cords.

    “The lightest shackle I ever wore” is a beautiful tribute to your relationship with Emma.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So beautifully written- and felt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mari Collier says:

    It is a beautiful love story. You were both blessed to have each other. Your ability to write those special times is amazing. I cannot write mine. The hurt is too deep.

    Liked by 1 person

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