I've been thinking often of our little baby who's with the Lord. It's made me think of when Julie got pregnant with Ethan. Taylor was just five months old when Julie managed to seduce me and a little miracle happened. That was the start of where we are now with a dozen kids because we were going to stop after two kids. Seriously. We thought it was all so perfect having two little boys three years apart -- Brenton and Taylor -- who would be best friends and we could still have a life ... boy howdy do things change. It reminded me of an article I wrote that appeared in the Central Oregonian on July 30, 1993. I was editor of the twice-weekly Central Oregonian newspaper in the cowboy town of Prineville when I penned the editorial called "Letter to Ethan" that appeared 23 days after Ethan was born. He was our second baby, after Taylor, who we had at home with the help of midwives. Bear with me because this is going to be a long blog entry. But I hope you're blessed by it.
The call came at 3:30 p.m. I had been expecting it all day, but the voice on the other end of the phone seemed so calm.
It was my wife, Julie, and she was telling me her contractions were four to five minutes apart.
"Oh," I said so casually. "So do you want me to come home?"
There you were, Ethan, making movements to enter this world. Finally, I might add. Nothing personal, but you had made Julie's life so uncomfortable.
With you came sleepless nights, trips to the bathroom five minutes apart and restlessness on your part at the end of another weary day, just as Julie was drifting off to sleep.
I tried to reason with you, asking if maybe you could move off your mother's bladder, or if maybe you would be so polite as to settle down and catch a few z's while Mama was trying to sleep.
We learned early you had a mind of your own. My requests often went unheeded. No matter, though. Through it all I was always so excited to finally meet you.
Were you a boy or a girl? Would I be in my boss's office asking for a raise because my wife had just cleaned out the little girls section of the local department store?
Or would I be wrestling with you on the floor of our house when I got home from work, trying my best to fend off the hard-charging advances of you and your two big brothers, Brenton and Taylor?
I arrived home at 3:45. What a zoo. You were working fast, anxious to get out and see the real world -- all that you had heard but never seen.
Brenton, age 4, was in tears. He wanted me to take away your mother's labor pains. What could I do? There was no stopping you now.
And Taylor, a 1-year-old teething little beaver, had lost his pacifier and was exercising his new teeth on many of the wood products in our house. That little chainsaw in diapers should be sponsored by Homelite.
Order was somewhat restored with the arrival of a neighbor to watch your brothers, but Julie was in such pain and things were happening so fast I was afraid you would just pop right out.
And I wouldn't even have time to boil the water and tear the sheets.
As you know by now, we decided to have you at home. But sheesh, I'm no midwife. Though you were trying your darnedest to make me one.
Our midwife was scheduled to arrive at 4:45, about the same time Grandma Sabo showed up to take Brenton and Taylor off our hands. In between then, people were calling and wanting to talk to Julie and blah, blah, blah.
"Look," I wanted to tell them, "if I don't get my catcher's mitt on in a hurry, no one is going to be there to field our pending arrival."
By 5:15 the smoke cleared and I was given enough things to do to keep out of the way. But, boy, you were coming.
In another half-hour I knew we were close. Julie was working so hard and you were right there.
Ten minutes later, at 5:55 p.m. on July 7, 1993, Ethan James Sabo arrived. I won't fool you. The first thing I checked was the plumbing. Yep, all boy.
You were all purple and wrinkled and your skin was white and peeling in spots. Yet you were so perfect. All that work, all that pain. And here you were, in my arms.
I've held you so often since you were born. I know the feel of your little back, the shape of your head on the palm of my hand. I know how you smell and the taste of your skin on my lips.
Many times in your life you will be hurt, or discouraged. You will cry or be angry.
And always, Ethan, just as I am now on this night, long after the city has gone to sleep and the only light in our living room is the faint glow of the moon, I will be here to hold you.