Blue footie pajamas covered in a solar system pattern. A static mess of blonde hair fringing upon too long. You have only had one mini-haircut so far — where I cut off your baby curl — so I could keep it for you in a scrapbook.
I wonder what happened to that curl after I went away. I never got to make that scrapbook for you; I never got to do a million things I desperately wanted to do because I was incarcerated.
Today is the hardest day of the year for me — worse than Christmas. I used to make you a cherry cheesecake after I had given you a tiny bite of one at Applebee’s and your eyes lit up like it was the best thing you had ever tasted.
I don’t remember exactly what I used to make for dinner, but you were such a hearty eater there was nothing but remnants and crumbs all over my living room. I got you a toy dog that sang and taught you colors and shapes as well as your very first Tonka truck.
You were such a boy. Everything had to be guns, camouflage, trucks and tools, so you could be just like your dad. You had a red and gray tool chest with a handle. Inside: a wrench, a screwdriver and a hammer.
When you were barely 2, you kept stealing the tape measure off my desk or out of the junk drawer, no matter how many times I took it back. This continued until I went away. You would get mad and say you needed one like that because no tool kit for kids came with a tape measure.
Trust me, I checked.
You would watch everything so closely and mimic everything we did. By the end of the night, cherry cheesecake covered me, you, the high chair, the tile, your pajamas and your hair. You even had some between your toes and up your nose.
Next time I would know to use a dropcloth. I never minded messes because we all loved bath time so much.
Twenty minutes in the bathtub usually meant 21 (to 27) questions:
“Mom, why are Mr. Bubbles’ eyes so big?”
“Why do my fingers look like grandpa’s?”
“Why does my rubber duckie poop?”
“What?” I said. “Oh lord! Yes, when you don’t get all the water out of the duck, they get mold in their butts.”
To which you gasped and said, “I don’t want mold in my butt!”
You have been a comedian since you were knee-high.
Welcome to your youth, young squire — I love you immensely.
Not long ago I had some cherry cheesecake with someone I love and it made me miss you, almost as bad as I miss you today.
I’m going to need you to get it together cause you’re gonna be a brother again, and this little predator is kickin’ it like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.