The sky is an October color--a blue you see in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio this time of year, bordered in my side and lower vision with brilliant hues and just enough green left over from the wet summer to make a lump in my throat. But the lump is already there. Today is his birthday and I'm probably the only person who remembers.
As we drive past small towns and corn fields on a familiar route, I say to my husband, "Stanley would be 42 today." It takes a few seconds for him to pull up a memory of that plump, blonde toddler and reconstruct him as an adult old enough to be a grandfather.
"I wonder what he would look like," he says. I can't see his eyes behind his sun glasses.
"Probably just like you. Your baby pictures look so similar, except your hair was more red."
"Maybe he'd be bald by now--mine really started going after 45," he recalled.
I have little memory of what he actually looked like. I've browsed the photo album so many times that all I see when I try to recall his face are black and white and fading color snapshots and a color portrait taken at the department store in Champaign, Illinois. I do remember the way he looked when they placed him on my abdomen in the delivery room with that "what's happening" expression and the way he looked in that little casket in a new blue suit. No photos at the beginning and the end to blur history.
"We wouldn't have the kids now," he says, mentioning they'd be stopping by later to see the DVD of our trip west.
We are quiet. The harvest ready fields roll by and I think again of my favorite Old Testament verse, "Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten. . ." Joel 2:25