It would be an honest statement to say that Jim kept us smiling pretty much from the delivery room. On that wintry morning in 1971 at 5:45 a.m., my first born returned my initial look with sparkling blue eyes and a tiny wee crooked grin. We laughed with him for the next eighteen and a half years. I don't often talk about the accident that removed the laughter from Jim's mortal being. I have always experienced pain within myself physically as I listen to the actions leading to his instant death. I long with all my fibre to believe that he didn't have time to be frightened as the truck hit his bicycle that sunny July 19th in 1989. I hope his soul was suddenly pulled from it's then broken shell and brought peacefully into the next phase of his life. That belief has given me the strength to live each second since then.
Jim was the class clown, a voracious knowledge seeker, our resident stand-up comedian, the energy that filled a room and the love of his mother's life. From age two he would wipe away any tears of mine with the firm words, "Don't be sad Mummy, I wuv You!" This innocent, trusting love of his began to teach me the meaning of true unconditional love and allowed me to heal throughout his lifetime from many of the childhood wounds I had suffered. With his sister's birth two years after his arrival, my children took me on a journey of learning that I still travel, now with awe and respect as I watch my daughter grow into young womanhood. From the beginning of this journey with 'Jim in our hearts', we have tried to make his birthday a day to help others in some way. You see, Jim showed us how as he was always helping the underdog; becoming friends with the newest classmate and settling the school yard fights. In grade three, his teacher discovered the easiest way to help a young boy from Thailand learn English was to sit him right beside Jim where his never ending stories and jokes, quickly helped Roy master his second language!.
My son loved to make a grand entrance and he picked New Year's Day to announce his own arrival. From that day forward, parents were more then happy to deposit their noisy children on our doorstep and retreat to their beds while we entertained the crew at Jim's birthday bash. A wonderful day to celebrate your child's birth but a lousy day to remember a child who is no longer here to blow out his candles. Every one seems to be shouting, "Happy New Year" and I just want to yell back,"Don't you know Jim should be here for his Birthday today!". So to help ease that pain, the first New Year's we used some savings to buy a V.C.R. for a group home. We felt his day was truly honoured when one young resident kept saying, "But why would you do this? You don't even know us, I don't understand!". Two years ago our honouring took place at a downtown church in Toronto. They were providing a hot meal and a respite from the cold, to homeless men in an effort to help them survive one of the coldest winters on record. For those four hours we entered a world that I knew existed but had never really allowed myself to know. My husband learned that his presence and attention calmed a frightened, schizophrenic young man who's trusting smile will always be part of John's memory of that day. I even shared with one young man that we were marking the anniversary of Jim's birth that day. He looked into my eyes and said with the knowledge of a sage, " The pain must stay with you forever". At that moment the differences in our lives disappeared in a flash as I cherished the sensitivity and empathy of a fellow human being. I know now after ten long years that Jim will not fill a room with his energy or wrap his big arms around me again here on earth but it certainly feels like he's around to see how we celebrate his birthday each year!
Addendum: This year I am having an extra hard time facing the fact that Jim will not be here to celebrate his 29th Birthday as the new Millennium dawns. He always said that this would be the best Birthday ever!! I thought that it would be special if everyone who reads this message would remember to say "Happy Birthday Jim" as we go into the new Millennium. A big round of "Happy Birthdays" from around the world would certainly make us feel good and I know my son would feel remembered.
Thanks, to everyone who would be kind enough to do this, Yours, Vicki
You can send email to Vicki at: [email protected]
date of post 11-16-96 edited 12-7-99