Ryan Mentock

An Incomprehensive Catalog of Things I've Made and Words I've Written.

A Letter to My Son: 1 Year Later


I had this entire thing planned out in my head before I sat down to write to you. I have thought about what I’d write to you in this letter for a whole year, minus the two days it took me to realize we’d be coming home from the hospital without you. And now I feel like everything is being said for the first time, like none of the thoughts I’ve had about you for the last year will make it to this page. I’m worried that I won’t be able to remember everything I wanted to tell you, but maybe you’ve heard the important stuff already.

When we got home from the hospital, I started to make you a box. It gave me something to do and kept me from crying all day, so I thought it was a good project for me at the time. I screwed up a few times, as usual, but I made something that was eventually worthy enough to store your pictures and some other things that they gave us at the hospital. It wasn’t perfect, but it had the Polish War Eagle on top and looked pretty bad ass so I thought you’d still like it. The box now sits on top of an armoire in our bedroom, in addition to the original white cardboard box that originally held your things. I haven’t actually looked in either box since we put them there, but I’m pretty sure your teddy bear is still in the cardboard one. I’ve planned on moving your things to a better spot for a while, but right now your things are safe from the cat and that is really about the best I can do because the cat is a jerk.

We received your ashes a few weeks after I put the box together, so they have been hanging out in a special place in a glass cabinet that overlooks most of the house. It’s a pretty good spot, I guess. I can kind of talk to you from anywhere in the house, so sometimes I do. I’ll usually ask you a question, hoping you’ll somehow help me out. I often actually figure out a decent answer to my problems, so I suppose I can credit your guidance for at least some of that luck. Thank you for listening.

The doctors found out why you died during your autopsy. They fixed the problem with your mother and your sister is going to be born in November. She is doing very well right now and will be grateful your bravery. I will make sure she knows everything about you once she is ready. I will do everything I can to make sure she remembers her brother.

Some of my friends have kids that were born around the same time you were. We have this stupid thing called Facebook and it makes sure we know everything possible about people we rarely talk to. That has caused me to have this weird thing with a few babies I’ve never met – every time I see them, I think about you in the same situation. I don’t know how I feel about that yet, whether it’s good or bad. I can’t fault my friends because I’d be proud of you, too, but it still hurts to see those kids doing things you never got to do while reminding me that this is around the time you’d be doing it. I suppose that I’ll have to figure out how to deal with that eventually.

A couple weeks ago, I talked to a person I’ve known for a long time for the first time since last summer. She asked how you were doing and wondered how much trouble you’re getting into now that you’re getting so big. It was the first time since the first couple days after you passed that I had to tell someone that you were dead. “He didn’t make it,” I said. I did pretty good for about two minutes, but fell apart almost immediately after they left. I’ll probably do that forever. I just came back to this paragraph after a couple days of thinking and did it again, so seems to be a point being proven.

We won our softball league tonight. I pitched and did a good job for most of the game, but then I got tired and started to screw up in the last inning. I’m guessing you heard me ask you for a strike while I was struggling. The next pitch, I threw the most beautiful knuckle ball of the night – it just danced all over the plate and I smiled like crazy watching it move. It landed perfectly for a strike. The ump called it a ball. That *#$% called your pitch a ball. I threw plenty of correctly called bad pitches during that inning, and that ump is actually a good guy, but your pitch was a strike. You did great. We won, anyway, but I just really wanted that pitch to be a strike.

You died on the 25th, but you were born on the 26th. I think about you every day, but I’ve never really been sure which date I should use when officially marking your life. I decided to just celebrate both days, with the midnight between the two being your moment. This letter was written in a couple days, but I’ve thought about writing it for a year. I don’t really know how the afterlife works, so I figured I’d talk to you and write to you both, just in case there is some weird rule that you can’t hear the living. If that is a stupid idea, tell God that I grew up watching Ghostwriter so you can blame whoever that guy was. I think I’ll only be writing more often now.

As you can probably tell from your current vantage, I really don’t know what I’m doing, Calvin. I’m going to need your help if I’m going to be strong for your mother and sister. I love you so much. You motivate me to be a better person, and don’t judge me when I’m not. You are amazing and will be in my heart and mind forever.

Talk to you soon.