Special days are always difficult when you are missing someone you love. Yesterday was no different. Our mom did a cool thing when our birthdays rolled around; she would do a birth recap that would always start “— years ago today, your daddy and I were waiting for a beautiful baby girl…” She would go into the pregnancy and birth details. I know my birthday story and my sisters’ stories, as well. My sisters and I do the same thing with our children.
I tend to mentally track back the day before my kids’ births and reflect on what I was doing. On the 6th, I couldn’t forget our excitement as we waited on a new baby boy’s birth. Scheduled to make his appearance on the 28th of November, he made his entrance at his own time which was his habit throughout life.
John stayed home from the Portland City council meeting because he was afraid I’d go into labor without him. By 5 a.m. on the 7th of December, we knew that John David Russo would soon be there. As we waited in the Spohn birthing room, his grown brothers and sister joined Georgie, John, and me to keep watch on the contraction monitor. Friends from work and church came to see if we had a baby yet. When the doctor ran everyone but John out of the room, Georgie was disappointed that she couldn’t be there, too.
John David Russo was a dark-eyed, dark-haired 7 lbs, 9 oz little boy who brightly watched the world as they suctioned his mouth after his 12:42 p.m. birth. John said that Jack made eye contact all the way down the hall as he carried him to the nurses’ station to get Jack weighed and checked.
I didn’t go to work yesterday. Work has been my refuge since Jack’s death on January 15, 2009, but I just didn’t feel like pretending like it was another day. Birthdays are remarkably special since the world changes forever when a new soul makes it to this planet.
As my child, Jack brought a great deal of joy. I was always amazed at the way his mind worked. His ADHD ways could try the patience of a saint-and I’m no saint. I was often frustrated with him but couldn’t stay mad at him. There was something about his silly self that could dispel anger quickly. He was funny, bright, and loving. He loved his family and friends fiercely.
I loved his niece Nina’s recollection of him in her Facebook status. She said, “today would’ve been the 23rd birthday of one of the most important people in my life. And there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t on my mind. So happy birthday to J.D. “Jack” Russo! we all miss and love him.” I couldn’t say it better.
Friends and acquaintances chimed in with “Happy birthdays” and comments:
- … I’m always going to remember you putting ketchup in Nina’s cup at sonic 🙂 happy times
- I remember him coming over once and needing a jacket and he wore my pink one proudly.
- Adrie put him in one of Claire’s dresses when JD was about 3. He spun and twirled through Grandma’s living room and when he got over one of the floor vents the dress flew up and he did a Marilyn Monroe pose. Making people laugh was just instinctual for him..
- I remember during ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’, I had some Gobstoppers and he wanted some..so I gave him a few and he put them in his mouth….then he realized he was about to go on stage and told me to hold them and spit them out in my hand. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked, but I found it funny.
- That hair… I wanna bounce a hamster off of it :O
- wow its amazing how people can have such an impact on your life
I never imagined life without him or his sister. No parent should have to live without their child. But it happens. Grief, like my alcoholism, is best taken one moment at a time. A day at a time is too much at first.
Like watching your child grow and wondering how time could go so quickly when you watch them 20 years later, time passes away from death. How can it be nearly 3 years? How can we be having a 3rd birthday for Jack without him? On his 1st birthday, John woke him in his crib with a bouquet of balloons; Jack didn’t think a birthday was complete without plenty of balloons. I thought about that when we released balloons after Jack’s memorial service.
I re-read Jack’s song lyrics yesterday. I remember when he wrote a song to his dad; I think he was 16 at the time. The words he wrote about John are poignant and meaningful in light of Jack’s death.
Song to my dad, John Russo
He died when I was 9Well I guess the tour is finally over And we all feel a little bit older We can look back and reflect On all the memories with dire respect So I guess all good things must come to end And I guess it’s time to say goodbye to all of the friends. We may be older but I guess we are also wiser I never knew goodbye could hurt Well, it seemed you were a sanctuary And the idea of a world without you is a bit scary Cause your kindness was our weakness and all along I must admit we never were too strong So I guess all good things must come to end And I guess it’s time to say goodbye to all of the friends. We may be older but I guess we are also wiser I never knew goodbye could hurt So pass a machiatto We can all know Everything that you did No one wants you to go We’ve watched you grow Watched you get older And the world without you seems A little bit colder
We miss you, John David Russo. You are loved!