Shadows in the rocks


I love music but can’t sing or play a note, but as I’ve sometimes said a rhythm or melody worms it’s way inside my head asking for some lyrics, so from time to time I attempt to write some lyrics, for better or worse…


Scratch armed bandit
Collecting junk at night
Trying to find a balance
Get himself feelin’ right
Running with his best friend
Baby girl in flight
Shooting powdered milk
In the darkness of the light

Shadow children
Shadow chill-ill-dren
If they live into their forties, they’ll be residing in a box
Hand in hand while tripping over the shadows of the rocks
Remembering the good times
Making money pulling cocks
Never see the brightness when you’re a shadow in the rocks




Beat up little urchin
Sneaking out the back
Satisfied Uncle Aaron
Still moaning in her sack
Never got invited
Still, he has a knack
Of using teenage sweeties
Afraid to tell the facts
Meets her superhero
Captain America on crack
Both sinking down the drain
Victims of the smack
They don’t need food or money
It’s life that really lacks




Shadow children
Shadow chill ill dren
If they live into their forties, they’ll be residing in a box
Hand in hand while tripping over the shadows of the rocks
Remembering the good times
Making money pulling cocks
Never see the brightness when you’re a shadow in the rocks




Sick of being tired and tired of being sick
Worshiping a dime bag turn another trick
If they make to their 40’s, they’ll be living in a box
Begging for a morsel as shadows of the rocks
From the bottom of the rocks
The wretched lonely rocks
Shadows of the alley smashing the bottom of the docks
Runaways forever shadows of the rocks



Everybody hates him
Wants to see him harmed
He needs to take his handgun
Just to stick it in his arm
A little girl abandoned searching for a friend
No one sees’s a child no one raises an alarm
She’s just a geisha of the poppy
Hiding from the storm
Hopes to be a grandma
But her life won’t last that long

Shadow children
Shadow chill ill dren
If they live into their forties, they’ll be residing in a box
Hand in hand while tripping over the shadows of the rocks
Remembering the good times
Making money pulling cocks
Never see the brightness when you’re a shadow of the rocks



Sick of being tired and tired of being sick

Worshiping a dime bag turn another trick

If they make to their 40’s, they’ll be living in a box
Begging for a morsel as shadows of the rocks
From the bottom of the rocks
The wretched lonely rocks
Shadows of the alley smashing the bottom of the docks
Runaways forever shadows of the rocks



The Road Ahead




Today we look in the rearview. For many of us we see a number of accidents behind us, swerve marks and maybe a few skids off the road, but that’s in the past. Don’t stare into that mirror for too long because the road in front of us is still dangerous and we are certain to come across many reckless drivers and challenging lane shifts. Our route needs to be negotiated thoughtfully and carefully. Fill your gas tank with hope, your tires with determination, and drive with caution, purpose, and love and always drive toward peace. We are all sharing the same road. Have a happy and prosperous new year….
Live and Love in Peace

The Existential Baker

Forgotten How To Care




Where do the unfortunate children live?

Charred basements

Broken windows

Hinge less doors

Cracked walls

Torn up floors

Abandoned palaces

Way beyond our gated paradises

Far away so we won’t have to see





Where do the unfortunate children play?

Septic swamplands

Dead grass

Scorched earth

Forgotten swing sets

Junkyard Hell

Running on decay

Chewing paint chips

Shredded promise soufflé

Far away

Not near you

Hidden from our guarded suburbs



If we sweep them under the rug will they still exist?

Can we hide them away from where the moneys made?

Shield us from their tears

Remove their squalor from our sight

Pretend they’re not still here

Hide away their despair

Where we never have to see them

Where we no longer look

Yet still hear them cry

Without listening

Without asking why



Why should I have to share what’s mine just because their lazy

Its not my problem not my fault

Let someone else foot their bills

Let someone else buy their shoes

Put food into their bellies

Shelter them from storms

The big game is on TV tonight

My fridge is full of excuses

I have no time to hear the plight

Let me watch the latest shows

Not some documentary to remind me I once cared

At a time when I believed in caring





Anyway that was a long time ago

I was filled with lofty ideals then

In youth I believed in so much

It seemed we all had a dream

A vapor really

Breath on glass

Bold and large

Mirror dreams

Wiped away with self ambition

Dissipated with fumes of self indulgences

Into nothing

Compassion disappeared from my looking glass

Leaving a reflection of myself

The face of one who forgot

A face of shame

No salary can buy it away

No ambition can veil the self contempt

No status symbol can wash away regret

Of forgetting how to care

Shame on those of us who abandon our hidden neighbors

So wrapped up in ourselves

That we have forgotten how to care

Remember the days

we all promised

To lend hand

To wipe their tears





Jack In The Box, A Life In Cardboard Purgatory


This story is a bit long but its a socially important story of struggle and unfair judgment designed to help shed some light on a deeply disturbing problem so IMHO worth the time spent. As tempting as it is to turn it into a political wage equality statement it goes far beyond that, beyond the argument of entitlement vrs. privilege, it’s a plea for us as humans to return to humanity. This is a story of real lives, real struggles, and issues about the need of not just throwing money at the impoverished or disadvantaged but understanding, educating, guiding, and offering a fair and equal opportunity to all of us to live productive lives in a society that values life. All life…One world, One Peace.
By J.T. Hilltop
Never judge a book by it’s cover. Check that. Don’t freaking judge anything at all books or people until you truly understand them. Like the famous Native American proverb says “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” There are a number of variations of that proverb and any one of them will do it just means walk the walk before you talk shit. The handsome business man next to you on the train could be a serial killer planning his attack on you. The nice sweet looking old lady could be sticking knitting needles into her cats when she gets home. That mean looking dirty hippie could have a full time productive job. There are low income people who do more for their communities than so called upstanding citizens and phony philanthropists who couldn’t care less about the people they gave to as long as everyone knows how helpful and considerate they are. They don’t even walk a single step they pay someone else to walk the mile for them.
When my first child, my daughter was born I wanted to commemorate her birth by getting her name tattooed in a rose on my arm. So at two weeks old the very first outing my baby girl had was to a tattoo parlor on Long Island that was filled with half a dozen very tough looking mean looking bikers. When they saw this two week old little child they became total mushes. They ewwwed and ahhhed and acted more like we were at a baby shower than a tattoo parlor. So instead of hiding my baby in a blanket I let them make cooing noises and fuss over her like a grandparent would. Who am I to judge?
Not judging was the biggest lesson I took from an adventure I went on after making a long series of bad decisions and having even worse luck. It took scraping the bottom of the beer barrel and finding myself constantly at another self imposed dead end for me to decide it was time to make a U-turn. After a series of misfortunate circumstances I found myself totally alone somewhere in Georgia, some 600 miles from home with nothing but a few bucks in my pocket and the clothes on my back. I had slept the night at a Salvation Army shelter and while I laid in a cot instead of focusing on how and why I ended up lost, broke, and homeless I convinced myself I could turn all my disadvantages around. With the little money I had I would buy a pencil and a notepad and transcribe wherever my journey led me and go out in search of Americana. Someday I’ll write a book. I’d find work along the way teaching myself how to survive and transcribe all my experiences. And so I did.
When I set out on my hitchhiking/transcribing adventure I thought it would be the story of me, how I turned my life around while traveling and learning. I quickly realized however that my adventure would have little to do with me but everything to do with the people I met along the way. And it became obvious the first day. When I left that Salvation Army revived with a shower and a hot cup of coffee I wasn’t even sure where I was going. Maybe back to New York, maybe to Arizona, or maybe I’ll head straight on to California. I was playing each card as it was dealt to me, no plan, no direction, I just wanted to see different places and write about little town America on the way. I used half of my life savings and bought a notebook and pencil.
The very first person I came across was a man I guessed to be about my age sprawled out on the grass seemingly passed out from drinking and baking in the sun. I gave him a little shake to see if he was okay. He rubbed his eyes and sat up. On closer inspection the man was probably younger than me with at least three days worth of stubble hiding his reddened weathered face. Neither the stubble nor the redness could hide his eyes though which were as bloodshot as a blushing beet. But it was more than that. His eyes also made him look a hundred years old, solemn yet unwise with nothing left in him but the ability to reflect inaccurately on his past. He coughed to clear his throat then spat a huge something across the lawn as he stood up. At first he wanted nothing to do with me having mistaken me for another Bible Belt wannabe Christian savior saving his soul and helping him to find salvation through religion. I assured him I was not in fact looking to help him or anyone because I have had enough trouble helping myself and that I never did find salvation in any religion. All I wanted to do was meet people and write about the experience. He offered up an invitation into his world and instructed me to follow him. I didn’t realize at that time but he would help me walk the mile.
I followed behind him while sizing him up with my pre-conceived notions. A homeless young man with a serious drinking problem who would rather get drunk than find work. He was dirty and unkempt with the stench of stale smoke and alcohol trailing behind him like smelly ducklings following the imprint of a mama duck with irritable bowl syndrome. He managed to stay ahead of the wafts of stench but many of them darted directly into my nasal cavity to set up camp in my olfactory glands causing me to wonder if I had already made another poor choice. I wondered why he didn’t just get cleaned up, find a job somewhere, anywhere, doing anything. He was young, seemed relatively strong, and I sensed at least a basic level of education. We walked about ten minutes then through a hole in a fence and finally to an area under a highway overpass. The sight was unsettling. It was a commune of the homeless, an urban campground of cardboard boxes, makeshift tents, piles of blankets or just piles of whatever, all types of homeless nests where everyone carved out their own living area. Like an office cubicle each person had their own territory with their own personal mementos, old torn photo’s, broken statuettes, any remnant that brings a shard of happy memories or a thread of hope. People here used shopping carts as if they were pioneer chuck wagons loaded with all kinds of stuff. Some had clothes hanging on strings between tree’s or posts, a makeshift grill here a three legged dinner table there, whatever resourceful use they could find from the discarded junk of suburban life. A commune of displaced humans seeking shelter from the storm. They mostly knew each other and I stood out as an obvious outcast and I would continue to be an outcast in their eyes until I walked the mile.
I began talking with the people living here in Spivakville (Named for a John Spivak a local inhabitant many years ago who was a champion for the poor and mistreated during the depression) I was expecting to find a profound level of hopelessness but what I walked away with was a profound sense of sadness with seeds of hope looking for a little empathy to help it grow. A few felt hopeless but for the most part it was the feeling of abandonment which was the more dominant emotion. Most were abandoned or mistreated at home or in school, laughed at, scorned at, and forgotten or looked down on by society. Not entitled, not looking for an easy way out, just looking for a fair shake, an opportunity for change. The worst thing for me was what they mostly received was pre-conceived notions like the mistaken ones I had leveled at a man I knew nothing about. I couldn’t give him a job, I couldn’t give him money, but if nothing else I could invest some of my time to hear his story. Jack shone a light on life that had me feeling shamed for having judged him but newly educated and enlightened.
His real name is Sam but since he came to Spivakville he’s been called Jack, short for Jack in the box because his first night he slept in a cardboard box that sat upright making him stick his head out like a Jack in the box. The name took instantly and he never corrected them. My guess is because for the first time maybe in his life he was in a group of people who made him feel like he belonged unconditionally, like he was accepted for himself. Jack crossed the border from South Carolina to start a new life in Georgia. In Grahamsville, SC he was beaten repeatedly by his step father and tended to his alcoholic mother along with two older siblings until he could no longer take it. He saved up some cash, took a bus to Augusta and got a room in a single room occupancy hotel that charges by the week. He had a job as a line cook at a local restaurant within a week. He was on his own and he was surviving. He fell in love with one of the waitresses. Her story was similar to his except she was still living in an abusive home. Together they vowed to help each other rise above the filth of abusive life and begin a new one together. A couple deeply in love and deeply dependant on each other emotionally.
One day she didn’t show up for work and Sam got worried. On his break he ran over to her house but on the way was stopped by her sister who told him she was in the hospital, had been struck by a car and was in intensive care. Disregarding work he went straight to the hospital and sure enough she was there and in real bad shape. He convinced a nurse with the help of his girlfriends sister to let him in to see her. The last vision he had of the love of his life was a battered beaten face and an array of tubes coming from various machines and an IV pole. He never even had the chance to say goodbye because she died a few hours later not having woken up from her coma. Along with his girlfriend Sam’s hope died as well. In desperate need of a friend or shoulder to cry on Sam did what he thought was the next best thing. He bought a bottle of vodka and went back to his room.
Over the next few days he only left that room to use the bathroom down the hall or to go to the liquor store. It wasn’t long before he ran out of money, constantly drinking and eating donuts to survive. He knew it was the worst diet possible but he really didn’t care about much of anything. After a week and a half he finally realized he needed to get back into life. He made his play to get his shit together, showered shaved and went back to the restaurant to beg for his job back. The manager didn’t want to hear about it because he never even called or let them know what was going on. He had no opening but if one came up he would consider him because he was after all a really good worker. He took his final paycheck and went to a bar. When he returned to his hotel that night the clerk, who had always engaged in conversation with Sam, had a saddened look on his face. It appeared the hotel had changed his lock and removed all his belongings which were in a closet in a large trash bag. The desk clerk was directed to deny Sam entrance unless he paid up his bill and another week in advance. Sam didn’t even have enough money to pay his back rents so he reluctantly grabbed the bag and left. The empathetic clerk informed him of a men’s shelter in town where he could stay until he figured out what to do.
Sam left that hotel with everything he owned in a trash bag. His life had been reduced to a Hefty bag full with some clothes, a radio, a hotplate, toothbrush, shampoo. As if that wasn’t deflating enough in it’s own right, when he woke up the next morning on a cheap cot in the men’s shelter, nothing was left in his trash bag under his bed except a few dirty socks and a half used bar of soap. During the night his belongings had been raided and that was all they left him. He moved into the street.
He slept behind a gas station in an abandoned car and used the rest room as his bathroom. Washed in the sink as best he could and shaved whenever possible with only water and an old razor. He went out looking for work but without a plug for an alarm clock, or the clock for that matter, going to interviews on time was a challenge. Add to that interviewing in the same dirty clothes traveling with a profound body odor it wasn’t long before he wasn’t even granted interviews. He couldn’t get a job because everyone hiring saw him as a dirty lazy bum, much like I had earlier. It was at that point I began feeling like a complete ass. Here I had judged him harshly before knowing his story, and now upon hearing it not only could I relate, but I could imagine that happening to me or any number of my friends. What a shit I was for assuming he had just been drinking his life away because I forgot to walk the mile.
Out on the streets he befriended a young man named Corky who schooled him on street life, how to panhandle, how to swindle, how to hide from the police, all the essentials of surviving the street. He had already learned not to leave anything of value unattended. Corky brought him around to Spivakville, showed him a free spot he could camp out on and pointed to cardboard box, “Cardboard acts like an insulator, it’ll keep you warm and dry if it don’t rain too hard. Until you can build a cloth home you should live in the box.” Sam grabbed the box, put it in his new spot and followed his only friend around the commune to meet everyone. That night Sam slept in the cardboard box as suggested but not knowing anything about being homeless he slept in it standing up vertically. The next morning when he popped his head out of the box Corky and the people around began laughing as Corky yelled, “Hey, it’s Jack In The Box” . Even Sam laughed. It earned him a new nickname, a good feeling, and a new sense of belonging. He had friends now, not one of which would ever judge him. Everyone at the homeless encampments has walked the mile.
Jack introduced me to many of his friends who came from all walks of life. Corky was once a promising comedian but lack of work and a girlfriend who introduced him to the needle ruined his act. A true character Corky seemed always ready to make others laugh to brighten their day even though his days are spent in constant darkness. I met Dennis and Sandy who had their house foreclosed on them because Dennis could no longer work construction due to an accident outside of work. Still in love but a completely different life from what they had before. Sandy pointed to an older black woman, “That there is Cookie, her own father pimped her out on her 14th birthday. Onlyest life she ever know was a life of drugs. Half the people here been crack addicts or junkies at one point, some still are. They sell they bodies or give sexual favors for either drugs or something to eat. Ain’t a single on of them say that’s they goal but it ain’t always about choice JT, y’all makes sure you put that in yore book.” I promised I would quote her on that. Next I was schooled in street cons from Slick, whose nickname was well deserved. He sold life insurance, had a house and a wife, sports car, and lost it all because he fell prey the perils of cocaine. He used the money people were giving him for insurance to go on three or four day benders of cocaine. Just an average guy who couldn’t keep away from coke. Everyone has a story, a beginning, a time when they understood what promise was. Everyone one of them hearts of gold. None of them wished to be here. Some came out of the womb at a disadvantage, some were forced out into the streets as kids, and some drove themselves to rock bottom but truthfully not one of them belonged here. Victims of circumstance, of environment, or just being born into a world that offered them nothing but scorn.
Most depressing was the amount of vets living here. All the flag waving and “thank you for your service” and “I support the troops” haven’t helped them at all. To them it’s all bullshit and lip service from the civilians who want to make themselves feel better, like proclaiming support on bumper sticker proves how much they care about the vets and validates their gratitude as payment enough. They don’t sit down and hear what the vets say because they don’t have the time. They look and sound crazy from shell shock or PTSD. Besides war is ugly and they would rather not hear about how truly horrible it really is and some of the things they saw and did. No the vets don’t want your verbal support they want medical attention, jobs, homes, they want to forget the horrible things they saw and did and just go back to living normal lives. They want to live without having nightmares every night. Yet now their normal is panhandling while living below poverty standards. Thanks for your support! They have walked the mile, many times, only to come home and find that others back home haven’t even recognized the fact that there is a mile to walked. Shame on us all.
In the end the common theme is in what the homeless really need. Some support, maybe learn a trade or get a break. Instead they get looked down on by most of society who won’t take a minute of there lives for the lazy free loaders who do nothing but look for handouts. Too many of us condemn them instantly, disdainful of them for not having money yet doing drugs or drinking, likes that’s a privilege only for the well off. You say we should give them drug tests before giving them welfare but I say no problem when you’re ready to do the same to all the wealthy and CEO’s who get tax breaks. I want to make sure they aren’t misusing the money we give them which even without a math degree I can state with confidence comes to far more dollars than we give to the impoverished.
In all my travels I have met many people who are reformed drug addicts or alcoholics both the well off and the poor. Bad luck has no prejudice. The big difference is the well off have family or friends, or at the very least one person who not only believed in them but got them to believe in themselves. I can tell you from experience that once you start to believe you can find yourself in a bottle, or a vial of pills, or even a syringe it’s very easy to lose yourself completely. At first it’s not a downward spiral it’s just a misstep, getting a kick. No harm no foul. Before long that misstep becomes your reality and you find yourself on a wrong path. Before you know it you’re so far down that path you don’t even recognize it, you don’t know where you are or who you are. You no longer even recognize yourself, why there’s an empty soul looking back at you from the mirror. You do things you swore you would never do to just to feel regular, to feel normal because you no longer know what normal is. You completely forget who you are and suddenly it’s too late, you give up. You can’t make it alone anymore. You’ve fallen so far down everyone else steps over you preventing you from rising up.
I stayed with them for three days until I felt it was time to move on. “Just point me west”. In a way I didn’t want to leave. The people I met here are what we used to call the salt of the earth. They didn’t judge me, they weren’t fake, they were just real people trying to survive in a difficult environment, and if you don’t believe that then there’s only one way to get you to understand. You have to walk the mile.



Soaked in the blood of an entire globe
The history of humans part one
It wasn’t written with pen and paper
Our history was written by gun

Let us not forget
The acrid stench of charred flesh from smoldering humans
Grilled across burning coals of hatred and terror
A million pieces of jigsaw humans abandoned
Discarded like rubbish
Stored in piles of impurity in huge ditches of shame
Bones of the walking dead dripping with sagged flesh
Numbers and bad memories burnt profound on their body
Experiments stretching the boundaries of decency
Hooked cross stigmata a symbol of human hatred to the Third
Is it even possible to harbor that much loathing of life?
Genocide of a Jewish nation
“If you want to shine like the sun first you must burn like it” A. Hitler
At what cost a holocaust
Remember life?

Lest us not forget
Winchester Manifest taming the natives with murder
A small pox upon thee in thy blanket of death
Soaring arrow overcome by flying bullets
Wiping out a culture to lay claim to their land
Removing their bison their village and traditions
Erasing their will through the barrel of a death stick
Does not the earth belong to all?
Another con quest in the name of the holy
Created equal but not treated equal
Lives bought and sold at a bargain of flesh
Humanity for barter in the village square
Chained and inspected then ripped from the family
Without a turn of the other cheek
Remember when
Fibers of ignorance hung with misunderstanding from weeping trees
Hoods of cotton bearing whips that cried out in sadistic tenure
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” G.Santayana
First the braves then the slaves
The Greening of America
Remember life?

Who could forget
Bombing for peace the landscapes of a world divided
Japan clouded in mushroom from spores of disgraceful power
To shock and awe
We had I we had II here comes III
Fossilized remains of the behemoth avenged
Through a thousand years of killing and drilling for blood
Victories measured in the tally of the dead
Soldiers tossed aside in a graveyard of artificial limbs
The Mother Of All Destruction at the push of a button
In the name of glory
Third world government LLC, DBA Democracy Incorporated

Remember pride?
Remember honor?
Trust, Integrity, Equality?
Remember life?
Remember love?
Remember poetry?

Remember when poets cared
No one was scared
Bells of Freedom rang
Songs of love we sang
Sisters and brothers
Respect for our mothers
Children with flowers
Took on superpowers
Those days of peace
When hatred had ceased
Were over too soon
Like a helium balloon
Disappeared out of sight
Destroyed by the might
Of those who didn’t trust us
The hammer of justice
Came down on our rights
Created more fights
Swept our dead underground
Laughed at the sound
The sound of our mourning

No reconstruction
Only obstruction
Mass production
And impending destruction
To each and every member
……If we don’t Remember

Mighty Meg Would Be a 25 Year Old Superstar Today


Today is my daughter Megan’s birthday. Had she survived she would be 25 years old. I had a few nicknames for her, Meg, Meggie, The Megstress, Meganator, Daddy’s Little Girl. Of all the names Little little was her favorite made her smile everytime, but Mighty meg was her most descriptive. Mighty Meg suffered a heart condition from birth and fought a valiant fight right from the start. Megan needed a heart transplant but organ donation, especially back in 1990, was extremely hard to come by. The need of her transplant was a soul searching bittersweet ordeal. The thought that someone else will lose their child before Megan could receive a heart was immensely painful both as a parent and as a human being. Meggie eventually did receive a transplant however with a compromised immune system she caught the virus that ended her short life. Mighty Meg spent way too much of her 19 months and 17 days in hospitals but through it all she remained brave. I didn’t even know what brave meant until I was like six, but Mighty Meg had an instinctive braveness about her. When her Mom and I were burning inside from the torture of watching as our child was jabbed with needles in search for a connection to a tiny vein she squeezed our fingers and got through it. Even after it was over and her Mom and I were still reeling in the tears Meg gave us a smile. She wasn’t happy, relieved maybe, but somehow Mighty Meg knew we needed her smile. That’s how Meg was, a mighty force that even in the darkest of hours managed to make us smile. So today I celebrate her birthday but not as a sad occasion, I don’t want to mar the memory of her birth with negative energy, but with fond remembrance as a tribute to what she gave to us in her short time here.
I know this sounds strange but I often wonder if species other than humans experience nostalgia like we do. I really don’t think that’s too far fetched because we now know that elephants experience something similar to empathy or sympathy when one of the herd passes on. Films have documented what can only be described as communal mourning in elephant ritual. Youtube is brimming with video’s of elephants as well as hundreds of other animals acting more human than humans. You can watch various animals interacting in loving ways with other animals or with us. I’ve had dogs and cats myself that were capable of giving and receiving love despite what any expert may say. Love can’t be studied in a textbook or laboratory, it has to be experienced. So I wonder do animals go back to the jungle where they were born, or the tree’s they played in when they were young, and have an unexplainable sense of happiness just being there? Maybe those elephants credited with never forgetting feel emotional tie ins with experiences such as birth. Can Mama elephant remember each of her birth’s fondly? Why not, many of us who have witnessed the birth of their children remember the delivery. We associate emotional events with many things, we can hear a specific song and be transported back to our first love. We do love our nostalgia. I mean look at how we celebrate our own birthdays. Congratulations to us we lived the length of time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun once again so lets have some cake and blow out some candles, that was quite a feat.

Despite the fact that each and everyone of us has a natal anniversary if we live another year we find it reason to celebrate our accomplishment. We see the date of our birthday and it triggers a comforting feeling in us perhaps because that day marked our entry into the world. It’s actually quite quaint when I think about. We develop bonds whether good or ill with events that mean something to us on an emotional level and assign it an anniversary. Today that emotional association for me is simply the date February 26, the day I witnessed the birth of my daughter, Mighty Meg. This would have been her 25th birthday and I find myself as I do every year wondering what she would have been like if she survived. In my logical mind she can never age past 19 months because that’s how long we had to enjoy sharing her life. So today I want to share my recollections of the day of her birth, the day Megan Laurine Jaret entered into our world. As is often the case especially with me, a profoundly sad emotion can be tempered with an upbeat and humorous memory to ease the sorrow of the heart.

It was near the end of February and Megan wasn’t due for another two weeks. It was so cold it felt like March was making a test run of it’s obligatory coming in like a ferocious cold lion. A bitter cold Northeast coast icy wind kind of lion. I was working in midtown Manhattan and Maureen and I lived across the Hudson River in Jersey City. We were a young and hip New York City couple so of course that’s where our child would be born. Being well versed in the Lamaze method of childbirth we were cool, calm, and collected when the moment arrived. Maureen called me from our 34th floor apartment in Jersey City to inform me that her water had broken. She announced it very calmly so I responded in typical suave male fashion. I freaked. After rapid firing all the proper lightning round questions it was agreed that the contractions were sufficiently far apart and time permitted that I was able to come get her. Once home we would have plenty of time to organize for our trip to New York Hospital. I left work and got on the PATH train for Jersey City.

By the time I got home the contractions had become impatient and we were at the point where the doctor told us to go to the hospital right away. So now this hip young urban boy had to head back to the city he just left with his pregnant and dilating wife, but this time in style, no pregnant wife of mine will be taking the PATH train! I called for a taxi then proceeded to get all of our “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” ducks in a row. Hospital bag was already packed waiting in the closet for the big call. A change of clothes, some bathroom items, a photo the instructor called the focal point so Maureen has something to take her mind off the mind blowing pain ahead and a snack or two. In recalling my childbirth class training I asked Maureen if she wanted me to make some Jello knowing she would be hungry after a hard day of labor. My uncanny ability to reason under pressure was noted, “Jello? Are you fucking kidding me? Jello?! I don‘t have time for any fucking Jello!” I thought about explaining that by the time we get through with all this child birthing stuff she might be hungry and could at least drink a semi set up gelatin but then remembered the smoke coming from her eyes when she just recently inquired if I was “fucking kidding“. I opted to remain silent. Maureen headed into the bathroom I assumed to use it one last time before leaving. Our phone rang and it was the front desk informing me our taxi was ready and waiting outside the door so I called into the bathroom, “Babe, taxi’s here, we gotta split.” Thankfully her voice had returned to that sweet sexy rhythmic fashion, “Just a few more minutes, I’m putting on my make up!” Admittedly being male I was unaware of the profound need of proper make up and asked why in the world would she needed to put on make up right now, I mean we are on the way to have a baby not a night out dancing?” Satan voice returned, “I said I’m putting on my make up and I’ll be done in a fucking minute.” I considered returning the volley with a “Oh so you don’t have time for Jello but you have time to put on your make up”, but the amount of stress she had placed in the “I’ll be done in a fucking minute” combined with my love of life alerted me to the total non necessity of such a statement so I opted for a weak, “Okay Babe, but we gotta hurry, Taxi’s waiting and you know how slow our elevator goes.” I took the silence to mean nothing more need be said by either party.

Okay, I’ll admit she looked great but I still puzzled over who would be seeing us. I could also sense nervousness in her which assured me I wasn’t alone in my panicked approach. Once I explained to the driver our situation the wide eyed look on his face assured me that now the power of three was rocking in nervousness. I can only imagine the thoughts rippling through his mind, a delivery during a delivery and all but to his credit he assumed control of his situation, got us both safely in the back of his New Yorker (ironic, right?) and began the trek through the Holland tunnel. The driver was quite animated and calmed us with his talking telling us about his children and the pregnancies therein. We were in the Holland Tunnel when he showed the first sign of concern. “Oh oh, some kind of jam ahead.” My heart sunk below the seatbelt and panic laughed proudly at how easily it got me shaking. “Don’t worry I’ll change lanes, if we get pulled over we’ll probably get an escort.” He crossed the solid lines a number of times not giving a shit about laws and calmly got us through the tunnel and onto the FDR like the pro he was unassisted by the police. When we pulled up to the front of the hospital a nurse was waiting already with a wheelchair because the driver had alerted his dispatch. I jumped out running around to Maureen’s door where the nurse looked at me with deadpan stare, “Can’t you read? All deliveries in the rear.” She pointed to the sign which I stared at vacantly, “Only kidding honey” turning to another nurse said, “This one here is in a daze, this should be fun.” They pushed Maureen down the hallways and I followed like a lost puppy dutifully shouting out breathing time signatures when contractions warranted. She was wheeled into a triage room where they set up the machines for her vitals, “Better call upstairs and get a room ready, we have a woman booming here!” The stand up comedian nurse showed me how to read the tags determining the severity and frequency of contractions and in seconds we were out of triage and into a birthing room.

Any sliver of confidence I had was shattered when I heard another woman in the throes of delivery screaming in pain in the next room. All the way through the room! I ripped open our hospital bag, “Where the fuck is the focal point?” I could hear Maureen breathing “he he he hoo, he he he hoo” and was relieved when I found the photo she chose for her focal point. “Are you fucking kidding? I don’t want a picture I want this to stop.” I had begun to think everything in the book and Lamaze class was total bullshit so we went off script and into our own rhythms. We looked at each other, read the contraction sheets, and when I figured out how to tell her they would be coming soon and they would be ending soon it eased the tension. Maureen just breathed whatever signature she wanted not listening to any command from any non medical professional at this point. The contractions came in waves, some hit the shore much harder than others. One wave in particular was so intense Maureen’s hands gripped my arm like a tourniquet, so tight it cut of circulation to my entire body. It would become a week long temporary tattoo of a blood red tribal symbol of a ten finger vice grip attack. Trooper that I am I whimpered silently. At 4:10 in the afternoon little Megan Laurine entered the world and her beautiful tiny face lit up the birthing room with joy. All the pain and discomfort of the past few hours was forgotten. Well mine was, Maureen was still in pain and discomfort, but she endured it with a smile when she held Megan for the first time.

So that’s the sweet part of the memory, the memory I choose to remember on her natal anniversary, even though like every other year I still wonder what she would have been like. I have no doubt she would have been a fantastic big sister to Kellie and would have her masters in something by now or she would have some impressive title. Maybe she would be the CEO of some big corporation just to piss me off. One thing she would have been at 25 for sure is a deeply loved child who could do or be anything she set her mighty mind to. If you are an organ donor we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts, if you’re not we hope you will consider becoming one. Recycle life.
Happy Birthday Little Little, I love you.