We were in New Orleans when the call came. We had just finished some coffee and biengets at the Cafe du Monde and were on the levee about to take a stroll down the river walk. I recognized the number and the voice. Fearfully, reluctantly I handed Maura the phone. Silence and what seemed to be hours passed. Then screaming. Lots of screaming. I’m quite certain the people in Algiers just across the Mississippi River from where we were standing heard it. Certainly the hordes of people in Jackson Square heard it.
Until that day, I did not think it possible to garner the collective attention of the crowds of people passing through the French Quarter. I now know.
The tears came. Huge alligator tears released from their caches having been contained some five months, probably longer. She screamed. I smiled. She cried. I laughed. I knew. And now most of Greater New Orleans knew.
We were going to have a boy! Zoë was going to have a baby brother. My wife could have died right then and there and I’m sure would have not counted a single moment in her life more precious. Her dreams certainly were coming true.
I was a bit more reserved. Cautious. You see, I was afraid of what a second child might do to me. What a second child might do to the bond between Zoë and me. I had loved Zoë unimaginably and could not fathom splitting that love between two. Sharing it. It’s one of the still unexplained mysteries of parenting. How can you possibly love each child as much as the other without loving any or either the less? I’ll give you the answer I was given–YOU JUST DO.
Zane arrived on August 1, 2002 on one of the hottest days of record. It was miserable hot. Undaunted, Zane set about on that day on his mission to affect the life of every single person with whom he came into contact whether it be the surgeon and anesthesiologist in the delivery room whom he peed all over, the neonatal nurse who he pooped on (immediately after his first bath), his aunts who were instantly smitten with his charm or his dad who wasn’t quite sure he could love another as much as Zoë.
Zane has transformed me, my whole way of thinking, my life. He has a heart that is bigger than he will ever be. Every ounce of his little body exudes happiness and he wants nothing more than to share that with everyone he meets. His laughter is infectious. He’s playful. He’s serious. He’s brilliant. His determination to succeed is amazing. He’s at that age where people will ask–as people often do–so what do you want to be when you grow up?
He’s quick to answer, “I want to be a quarterback but I’m kind of small so I’ll probably be a kicker, too. I’m also going to play baseball, and basketball and soccer. Then I want to save all of the animals in the South Pole. And…..I want there to be peace.” With each passing day it seems he wants to add another thing to an already impressive potential resume. He always asks, “Dad, can I be…..?” To which I always reply, “Of course you can.”
Because when you’re a six year old little boy you need to believe that anything is possible and that every dream can still come true.
Not many people ask me anymore– what do you want to be when you grow up? That’s OK. I’ve never really had an answer. But I think I’m getting close.
When I grow up, I want to be like my son.
Happy Birthday, Wild Man!