I remember drinking coffee and thinking about going into medicine as I watched nurses scurry by and doctors saunter with some intention. We learned in class the week before about hospitals being a perfect case study for organizational development. Non-profit, complex, obvious mission. At the time, Emily didn’t care much about that because, well, contractions don’t care about much of anything except excruciating pain that shouts he did this to you! After that, I believe I took a moment to snag some pumpkin pie from the hospital cafeteria, a delicious blend of pumpkin, pie, and industrial whipped cream. It was dinner for a nervous dad waiting for our second child. His mother was a pro, having gone through this not that long ago for the sake of our first. Between contractions we watched the approaching evening through a window on the 3rd floor.
And suddenly there he was. The world had another person. Our person. External. Glorious. Gooey.
He scored well on his Apgar, having swung 3 under par while picking up the spare in the 8th frame, but they decided to pass thru the NICU just to make sure his lungs were sponging correctly. They were. Laying there in that little plastic tray, our boy looked up to start taking it all in. I couldn’t help but see a slightly irritated Frenchman staring at me, saying in a French accent “why was I taken from zee apartment, monsieur? And where is my lait maternel? Wee, wee, etc.
My, how we loved him from day one. Our son. His name fit him perfectly. Malachi: God’s messenger.
I threw a football at him and nothing happened.
The night we took him home from the hospital, the Detroit mayoral debate was on live TV. Freeman Hendrix and Kwame were talking about what they would do to fix the regional core of my old hometown. So many challenges, which would pan out later to even greater issues after the election. But I didn’t care. We had our Mac.
Everything was good and right.
It’s amazing how a newborn has the authority to restructure an entire household and change perspectives. He did just that… and still does. Mac is awesome. Perfect? Well… he brought me a check — from my own checkbook — made out to him for one million dollars. Even had all the zeros and commas and stuff. I did not sign it. As far as a childhood goes, I think you’ve got all the right elements in that one example: clever, outrageous, insolent, adorable. I love him so much. Again, I did not sign the check.
He enjoys robots and reading and pranks and jokes. He makes kids at school laugh and then gets in trouble for it (entertainment has inherent risk). Like his mom, he feels things very deeply. He told me that a piece of music we listened to made him cry, which I understand. “It’s just so perfect… so perfect…” I know, son. The boy also throws a solid punch, so quite a combination indeed.
10 years ago today our world got better. 10 years! Time is elastic, going by too fast and very slowly, often simultaneously. The only way I can be sure that it’s been 10 years is because he’s much taller now. If I turned around tomorrow and saw him taking his first steps along the couch or straining to reach something on the counter I wouldn’t feel at all out of sequence.
Mac, if you’re reading this sometime in the future, please know that your father is sitting at his laptop with tears in his eyes as he realizes that his son is growing up. He’s proud, shocked, and still amazed after all these years.
And he is bald. Hopefully by now the cure has been found.