Today is such a bittersweet day - sweet because of the nice memories - bitter for the obvious reason: Henry is gone. Today would have been his 23rd birthday and, as we've done for a few years now, we're having Pizza Night in his memory. We'll get together with a few friends at what used to be his favorite pizza place and there will be quite a few more people eating pizza where they live or happen to be tonight.
I remember the day he was born so well. It was bitter cold, just like it is here today. Of course, Oklahoma cold is different from California cold. It warms up quite a bit here, there, it stayed cold for ages. During the time we were in the hospital, Henry was the only boy and the heaviest baby in the nursery. He was such a good baby, quite calm and unfussy. And he calmed down immediately when held. Didn't like car rides which was so different from Kate.
The picture above brings back memories, too. It was taken in the late summer of 1995, during the break between kindergarten and first grade. Henry had been taking karate (soo bahk do) for about a year at a studio that was very much geared towards teaching children. This was his first tournament and it was set up in such a way that each child earned a trophy of some kind. He didn't do quite as well in forms (he got so much better as time went on, going from soft and mushy movements to totally crisp and sharp) but won first place in sparring. There had to be contact of some kind and Henry kicked the little girl he was sparring with in the stomach. Not hard, just enough to earn him a point (and it wasn't mean or malicious, just part of the routine). The trophy was slightly taller than he was and he was so proud of it (wanted us to install a security system in the house so nobody would steal it :-)).
My father, who had been coaching a local wrestling team for many years, had died just weeks before in July 1995 and so I was a little weepy when Henry won. I think my father would have been proud of him.
It's "funny" - I can still hear Henry's voice and when I close my eyes I still imagine him coming in through the front door after school. It's been almost 5 years now and I still miss him and I still have questions.
Happy Birthday, Henry! ♥

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