December 27, 2008

A big hole

Big hug

First: happy birthday Ella! We had her first second birthday party last Saturday (the 20th, lots of kids and friends) and will have another at Barb's grandmother's tomorrow (family). You are a wonderful child, we couldn't have dreamed you up.

Next, a size update: at her two-year checkup she got all her measurements taken. She's been pretty consistent in her height/weight ratio throughout her life, and she's now up to 35.5 inches (90%), 31.5 pounds (95%), and her melon is 50 cm around (95%). She's a healthy girl.

Finally, some rambling. I'm only one or two New Yorkers behind, and I recently started into the Dec 15th issue, eager to read the Malcolm Gladwell article on the difficulties in predicting success for certain professions. (Worth it.)

I got through that article with only two interruptions, and my last shot of time was only enough to finish the Gladwell article, skim the movie reviews and read the first sentence of the piece following Gladwell's. It's a wonderful one:

The trick in foraging for a tooth lost in coffee grounds is not to be misled by the clumps.

I finished the rest of the article a day or so later. It's deceptively simple but, as Barb put it, its choice of details is poetic. (She is all about details these days.) The story is about what happens after a woman my age, a mother, dies suddenly and without warning. The author, her father, and his wife move from Long Island to suburban Washington, DC to help raise the three kids (7, 5, and 23 months).

Surprising tears welled up while reading. Few parents haven't thought about what would happen to their kids if they simply dropped dead? There are some things you can do to control this: eat well, exercise, don't drive like a maniac. But, like the woman in the article who had an asymptomatic and very rare heart condition, at times you're helpless.

When I was single nobody really depended on me. Sure, my family loved me and would be crushed if I fell off the earth, but their practical lives wouldn't have been greatly changed.

Marriage changes this, more than you realize beforehand. But even then it's a dependency of an adult, and that void can recede over time and be at least partially filled in by another. (It's also your responsibility as primary breadwinner to get insured, but that's another show.)

Then came Ella, and a big hole opened inside me and has yet to be filled. It probably won't be until Ella's an adult. That hole is her future I wouldn't be a part of were I gone.

Most capabilities of a father can be replaced, even those of a mother. But what can't be is the knowledge that there's more tying you to the earth and its inhabitants than mutual agreements, and two of the strongest ties are a mom and dad who love you unconditionally.

Next: Complete sentences
Previous: Perl webapp frameworks: what to explore?