I have attempted to write this post at least ten times in the last month, and have written pages and pages of thoughts and drafts, but nothing seemed right. Then my friend Michelle let me know exactly what to do, and it is perfect.
I met Michelle at work about four years ago, and we bonded in the way that only two strangers who grew up in Montana can. Our friendship grew over food cart lunches, happy hours, and sarcastic emails. After I met Galen, she was the first person at work I talked to about him, and then the first person to know a few weeks later when he asked me out. She is one of the most honest and open friends I have, and I’ve always valued her opinions and insight. However, she’s also the funniest chick I know, and I often worry I’m not funny enough to hang out with her.
One morning at work a few years ago, I went into her cubicle to chat with her about something, but was distracted by the sight of her devouring a breakfast sandwich in a way that made it clear she hadn’t eaten in weeks. With her mouth full of eggs and sausage, she swore me to secrecy before confiding that she was pregnant and this was her second breakfast that day. I was so excited I actually bounced up and down in my chair.
A few months later, Michelle came to work with the ultrasound showing she was going to have a baby boy. We asked about baby names and she told us she and Eric had had their boy’s name picked out for a while. At the time, she was reading Trinity, by Leon Uris, and we had previously talked about the book and also the great Irish names in it. Months later, baby Seamus was born.
While she was on maternity leave, Michelle and I went for Sunday walks with Seamus regularly, which was wonderful. I have lots of baby Seamus memories from that time, including how he liked to sleep in the carrier with his head tilted way back in a way that looked incredibly uncomfortable, how Michelle said he always behaved better in the car when she put Justin Timberlake on, and the time I was holding him and he peed on me through his diaper. Michelle and Eric were awesome new parents and I admired their ability to roll with the punches and enjoy every second. And laugh. A lot.
Once, when Seamus was about a year old, Michelle was planning to attend a mutual friend’s birthday party at a pizza place near our houses. She texted me to ask if I was interested in attending because she was looking for a “co-baby wrangler.” I have never had so much fun watching a kid NOT eat pizza, nor have I ever left a pizza joint as exhausted. We left a wake of destruction in our path, covered with napkins, plates, straws, and lots and lots of tiny cut-up pieces of pizza that Seamus had put on his tongue and then allowed to fall out onto the floor before doing the same thing again. There is no possible way he consumed more calories than he burned that evening. When he wasn’t licking pieces of pizza, I was toting Seamus around the restaurant, carrying him upside down, tickling him and trying to distract him from what he really wanted to do, which was get down on the ground and run away to explore.
The next time I saw Michelle, Eric and Seamus was at the Bridge to Brews 8k I ran last year.
Galen, me, Jess, Michelle and Seamus after the race. I'm pretty sure beer does for adults what orange slices do for kids.
Right after this photo was taken, I asked to hold Seamus. He was happy in my arms for about 0.13 seconds, until I wouldn’t let him rip my hair out or eat my sunglasses, at which point he started kicking so I’d let him down. Which I did. And the moment his little shoes touched the ground, he was gone. I chased him down in a crowd of people and then allowed him to run while I held on to the back of his overalls, since he was easily faster than I was when unrestricted. Eventually I had to pick him up and carry him back to our family and friends, because it became clear he was never going to take us back there.
The very last time I saw Seamus was at lunch with Michelle and some other former coworkers last fall. I had just quit my job to go back to school and Michelle had started a new job, so we got together with some of our old crew to catch up. Seamus sat in his high-chair long enough to eat some food, and then Michelle and I chased him around the restaurant for a half hour. I was sweaty and sore afterward from picking him up, chasing him, laughing and smiling. He reminded me of an old toy car we used to have that would drive on the table in one direction until it came to the edge, then turn 45 degrees, drive straight, turn, etc. – only turning when required. With Seamus, though, we were physically picking him up and turning him, since he was headed straight for a staircase or a wall and he didn’t want to stop for either of those things. Then he’d just take off running again.
Exactly one year ago, just shy of his second birthday, Seamus was in his stroller as his dad pushed him across a crosswalk. By absolutely no fault of their own, but because the world sucks sometimes and horrible things happen to good people, they were hit by a car. Eric survived, but Seamus didn’t.
Since then, I have thought a lot about him, about their family, and about all the good and bad things this world has to offer. I’ve written many of those thoughts down in the past few weeks, trying to find the ‘right’ thing to say on this blog. Then Michelle asked everyone to share their memories of her son, and I realized that’s always where my mind ends up anyway. These memories are what connects me to Seamus, Michelle and Eric, and they’re what I really wanted to share. I am grateful that Seamus was part of my world, albeit briefly, and I wish every day for nothing but good things to come to his parents and their families for the rest of their lives.