What’s the word, the best word to describe March 25th for me every year? For years and years, it was heartbroken. I was broken from the death of my cousin, my idol, Chris. He was killed by a drunk driver on March 25th, 2003. I’ve written about him many times. In the simplest of terms, he was superhuman to me. Just now, as I was saving my work, I tried to title it “Chris” and the computer laughed at me. Let’s try “Chris 2,651”. Okay, that worked. So, as you may have guessed March 25th was tough for me. Until, I can’t tell you exactly the day, but he just showed up. I was at the gym (snuck in a little humblebrag there, yes, I have been to the gym) and he just appeared in the mirror for a second. I turned my head to see who it was, who at the gym looked exactly like my idol, Chris Stanton. There were only a few people at the gym at this early hour, and I only saw a few faces, none of which looked like Chris, in fact, how could anyone, anyway? He’s a supermodel. I chalked it up as just one of those weird things, right, you find a little sign that your lost loved one sent you, I’m sure we’ve all had that experience. You think maybe it’s a coincidence, but, if you choose to believe it, it’s really incredible.
I went home from the gym that day and I told my wife I saw him. She asked me how it felt, and the only word I could say was “real, it felt real”. I had a good little cry that day on the way into work, a song that reminds me of him came on the radio and I cried tears of joy. And from that day forward, he visited me more and more, lots of times at the gym (another humblebrag, enough already…) or lots of times when I was in heavy thought about something. He just showed up and helped me thru whatever I was mulling over in my head. I talked to him, I told him stories about my life, my kids, my wife, my mom, my dad, any and everything. And then March 25th changed for me. Sometimes I woke up happy, thinking of him, remembering whatever small memory I thought of, and sometimes I woke up sad, missing my buddy. I’d be a little off, but then I would hear my daughters voice and I would smile. I would remember all the good I had here and now. And, you know what, I know he smiled to. He’s always teaching me, helping me evolve, whether he is alive or dead. God, I miss that guy. He deserves that damn book whenever I get the courage to write it.
This year, my brother and his wife found out they were having a baby boy due sometime in late March. This would be their second child, but the significance was that he was the first boy grandchild after four girls so far. The word boy was like a great big gift to all of us. It gave us all this new life, a little something to look forward to in these crazy times. The thoughts of boy clothes, suspenders and saddle shoes filled my Moms heart and the thought to being able to play whiffle ball and beat the crap out of this little boy filled my heart. My girls are my world, but with a boy, the thoughts of hockey rinks, baseball fields, dirty clothes from backyard football, video game fights over the best controller, fart jokes, and all those new memories I will get to make made my world just a little brighter. I will get to see the world from a little boy’s eyes, and I will get lots more perspective and probably million more stories to write about. I mean, I had to ask my brother if he bought a pee pee teepee yet. Those words, I don’t think I will ever get sick of saying pee pee teepee. Every time I walk down a set of stairs my knees remind me, I am 41, but pee pee teepee brings me right back to being an immature 11-year-old kid.
My brother and his wife like to keep baby names secret. Some keep the sex of the baby secret, but for them it’s always the name. I had to wake up early Saturday morning because my daughter was coming home super early from a sleepover and my oldest daughter was waking up for her dance practice, and then at 7 am we get this text from my brother “Introducing Christopher Joseph Stanton, who joined us at approximately 2:35 am. He weighed in at 8 lbs 11 oz and measured in at 21.5” tall. Both Mom and Baby are doing great!”. I yelled “Is this real? Is this real?” and I wept like a lunatic. Eventually I made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth, because I’m an idiot and I figured I couldn’t brush my teeth and cry at the same time. Boy, was I wrong.
I met him for the first time on Thursday, and my God, he is perfect. I haven’t been able to wipe the smile off my face since I heard that name. Just a fragile, beautiful little baby boy. My wife was surprised I was able to hold it together when I met him. We laughed about home much of a baby I was, and we got to hear all the hospital stories, all those little moments you miss when your own kids are driving in a car you bought them. But my favorite part was I didn’t see my “Chris” anywhere. I saw my nephew, this new Christopher Joseph that will be his own cool damn self. He’s going to be awesome because of his Mom and Dad, and, while I hold my “Chris” on the highest of pedestals I’m not worried about where Christopher Joseph fits. I can’t wait to watch this kid grow into whatever he does.
I was named after my Dad’s brother who died at a young age. I was always curious about my uncle Mark, but he died so young he didn’t have that many memories to pick from. Something tells me Christopher Joseph is going to know “Chris”. I thought about if I was ever to meet another Chris Stanton, I would carry that burden of making sure his story is told, turns out Chris’s stories were safe with lots of us. I talked to my Aunt, who called and couldn’t stop saying how awesome it was, his name, and I talked to my other brother and my Mom and they were just as excited as I was. Christopher Joseph has so much love already it’s truly amazing. I thought I would be the luckiest person ever to meet another Chris Stanton, turns out Christopher Joseph is the luckiest one.
Am I mad Christopher Joseph didn’t make his grand entrance on March 25th and write the end of this story for me? I really have no way of finishing this story so thanks for nothing Christopher Joseph. I can’t wait to get a little overconfident and try to sneak a curve ball in when I am trying to strike you out and you take it 350 to straight away center. You are in good hands little Christopher. I will teach you all sappy shit, Bupa will show you the kitchen, Colin will teach you how to love Manchester United, and Doug, or your Dad, will teach you how to be a real man. Colin and I will do our best to corrupt you, but listen to your Dad, his advice will always be the best.
I love you Chris, Christopher Joseph….