Voice in My Head: Oh! You want to know what He would do? Fine. Then you can start by not wasting any more time. Stop pouting. Stop hiding. Start spending every waking moment with the people you love, doing the things that make you smile.
The voice in my head is absolutely right.
So I decide to honor Him by doing what He would do if He was still here. (Isn’t that such a better testament than tattoos?) Finally, I leave my house. First, just to get ice coffee at the gas station at the end of the dirt driveway. Then, a little farther. I join the vigils with the friends from high school. I even hug His brother and His mother. Then I go to waitressing job I arranged back before college was over. Finally, I go all the way toManhattan. But before that, I go to His funeral.
* * * * * It was a Catholic service, so they keep saying his full name over and over again, “Joseph James.” It’s never truncated. Never shortened. No monikers. No “Joeys.” Hearing it so many times, over and over again, it came to me.
I would name my son after Him.
But then I thought—there are so many people so much more entitled to that honor than I am.
Still, the fantasy took hold. We could all name our son after Him. There would be a gaggle of Joseph Jameses all with different last names who would be best friends, who would be brothers and sisters, just like we all are.
It was summer when this happened—so we all could come home to get through this together. But we couldn’t stay home forever. We had graduated from college. Jobs would force us to disperse. One of us might settle inManhattan, another in Chicago, another inCalifornia. Years would pass. Soon, we’s all be get married and get pregnant. But every summer, we’d come back home, for fireworks and the chicken barbeque, and during those summers our boys will be inseparable.
They’ll fearlessly swim their first dog paddles atCrescentBeach. No. They’ll completely skip dog paddles and jump off ofSecondBridgebefore ever attending a single swimming lesson. They’ll do backflips on trampolines in Westmoreland. Leeches will get stuck on their stomachs when they swim in the pond inCampRacoon.
They’ll play basketball in the school gym on Monday nights. They’ll go parties in Starland. They’ll get hangover bacon egg and cheeses at The Pharmacy. After 13 years, they’ll graduate fromShelterIslandSchool. But they won’t separate. Somehow, they’ll still manage to stay together.
All the Joeys will matriculate in the same college—just like Joseph James and his brother Jimbo, and the twins James and Joseph, and Eric all did back when we graduated from high school.
Other people at the Joeys’ college will go to cities to do internships during the summer. But year after year, the Joeys will come back home toShelterIslandto sunburn on a lifeguard stand or working on the ferry.
Publicly, we parents will shake our heads in dismay.
“Sooner or later,” we’ll chide, “they’re going to have to learn to be apart.”
Secretly, we’ll beam.
We know that far too often life chooses to separate us from the people we love the most. Why make anyone learn this lesson any sooner than they have too?
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