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Liam is Twenty!

Friday, November 8, 2019

I went out this morning, as I always do, looking for signs. The time of your birth, 7:24 am, came and went while I was waiting for the light to rise up in the east, enough to get me out in the frozen meadow with Curtis.

While you lay sleeping in Morgantown, I surrendered to insomnia and started my day at four-something, scribbling down a page of truths that I may as well start facing. It's true, I worry about being the only anchor for you and Phoebe in this world, the source of your comfort and stability and support. I think about you two with every single thing I do: the responsibility of being It. The One. I want to be here for your forever, guiding you and talking you through everything life is throwing at you. You're both far away, but it's as if you're in the next room to me, so close do I feel to you. Your joy is my joy, and your sadness is mine, too.

 Finally, it was light enough to go out and face the morning, and I was glad it was clear and frosty.

Every single morning, I head out to your dad's grave, rain, snow, wind, sun, it doesn't matter. And every morning I wish it were otherwise, and that I could see him, give him a hug, hear his voice instead of standing mutely in a little clearing in the meadow, unanswered, staring at the blasted stems of coneflower and liatris.  I wish that for you, for me, for the world. Nothing about the way things are makes sense to me, and I know you and Phoebe are struggling with it, too. It's your twentieth birthday, and even if I did balloons, which I don't, no amount of balloons and frosting is going to cover that truth over.

Because we can't have him, we look for signs: thin consolation, but something. He is strong, and I feel him pushing through the heavy curtains of time and space, trying to get back to us. I had just gotten out the front door this morning of your birthday when I heard the pair of ravens that has been coming by intermittently of late. I feel lucky to be on their route. It's so good to have ravens around--it's been several years since I've seen them here, and this pair just popped up this month. I feel incredibly honored when they look down at me, register me, even talk back to me when they see me. About three weeks ago, when I was running out on our road, one came flapping over to me so low I could hear the silken swish of its wings. Now why would a raven stoop to that, if it hadn't been sent? In my all-too- human longing, I imagine that your dad is sending them. Why wouldn't he pick a raven as his messenger? Strong and wicked smart and funny, too. Here they are, this morning's Liam's-birthday ravens, and please forgive my hopeful honking. It's what I do to keep them around, probably chuckling at me, for a little longer. Always, I wish they would stay a little longer. 


Here we are. The bonsai we planted just before you left for school is turning red at last. And the little patch of white to the right of it bore further investigation.

Oh! They're dirtflowers, frost flowers, pushing up through wet clay on this 20 degree night, to greet me in the morning.

White, like your beautiful hair, and a little unruly.  Another little message? Why not?

Ah, there's our boy, looking back at me through my Dear Old Dad's icy blue eyes, and that shock of hair like frost flowers.

  Curtis wanted to be in the picture. 

He pose, for you.

I am so very proud of you, learning to paint, and so good at it already. Who knew that years of markers would just segue so smoothly into oils? I don't think I could pull this painting off. Always, you amaze me. Helps to have subject matter you like, doesn't it? Liam, you just light up my life with your sweet, funny, sensitive and hugely empathetic soul.

Hey, beautiful, beautiful boy. I hope you have a wonderful day. I'm sorry this isn't a light, fun hi-ho kind of birthday post, but it's what came out. It's a letter from home, with frost flowers and birthday ravens and one little dog made of sugar peanuts.  Just know that your mama is full of love and hope for you as you make your way into the world. We're going to make it together.

Curtis told me he had a little dog-skit to perform for you, for your birthday, so I just stood back and let the camera roll. He says to be happy, to run loops around it all, and go as fast as you can and try to impress everybody! Oh, and he says to smile! And wag a lot. Love you sweet Liam; you're the best son I could ever dream up. Can't wait to throw my arms around you. Enjoy your concert tonight!!



Brutal and brave and full of love.

The meadow looks beautiful.

Beautiful and sad and full of love. Happy 20th birthday to Liam.

He is a beautiful boy !! Happy birthday Liam !!

Happy Birthday, Liam!
I love your painting in your mom's post. Very skillful, looking forward to seeing your work mature and develop.
For your birthday, I will gift you the best advice I have ever received:
Choose to be happy.
This came to me from my own son when he was about your age. So much of life is beyond our control, but this we can do.
Wishing you a beautiful year!

So honored to be let in on this; so honored.

Your raven call is realistic!

Oh happy day with memories and love. Happy birthday, amazing Liam!!!

Oh, so raw and real. The only way to be. Your honking was fabulous, by the way. Sending love your way and to Morgantown and Spain.

Happy birthday Liam!

OK--wiping my eyes. Such a sweet somber joyful post.
Happy birthday to Liam.

This is the truth. How fortunate to be guided by a parent who speaks of life as it is in all it's beauty, joy, and sorrow.

A heartfelt tribute for your son to keep forever. You are an amazing inspiration, Julie.

Trying not to cry. The love expressed in this tribute is raw and moving. Thinking of all 3 of you.

Julie, Don't worry overmuch about being their "only anchor in the world." With family, as in most things, it is quality, not quantity that's important. And you have THAT covered, my dear.

Liam! Happy 20th, you handsome, funny, talented young man!

Posted by mimimanderly November 8, 2019 at 5:22 PM

Happy birthday, Liam! Scorpio guy. I’ll never forget your birthday; you share it with my Eliza.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LIAM! You hit a perfect mark in the letter. Exactly. I have followed your journey and send warm thoughts and good wishes to all of you.

Happy Birthday to Liam! love the work of art!
Julie, thank you for sharing this with all of us. It's beautiful and raw, sadness followed by the wonderful message from Curtis.

A wonderful tribute, as always, Julie. Sadness and joy and wonder all wrapped up together. My regards to Liam on his 20th. Hey, you are no longer the mother of teenagers.

Wonderful Blog Julie thanks so much for sharing.

Happy Belated Birthday wishes to Liam. I loved the message from Curtis. My sweet lab used to do exactly that, and we called it the Zips. I sure wish she was still around to run and play like that. Joyful expressions from a dog that obviously loves you dearly.

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