December 7, 1992, Pearl Harbor day, Richard was born. He was a tough birth with agonizing back labor and he came out sunny side up with a true knot in his umbilical cord. That child did flips in my uterus. Literally.
But he was OK. He was an infant athlete and could hold up his head and scrunch crawl the day we got home. By six months, Richard was talking in full sentences. By seven months, he was walking. It was so funny seeing a toddler walk under tables.
Richard got little attention from us his senior year in high school as our lives unraveled over what to do for Charles as his depression got worse and his drug use escalated. I had yet to find any support system so I know I probably burdened Richard too much about his brother at times although I tried hard not to. That guilt as a parent for having to invest so much time and attention in one child at the expense of another, really weighs on you. I know that was a topic of conversation many times at my support group, Families Anonymous.
Richard graduated college just weeks before his brother’s suicide in June 2015. Charles was not at the graduation because he was in rehab. That weekend was the first time in a long time that I got to focus on my oldest child. That would have been the last time we would have all been together had Charles been able to come. I enjoyed the weekend so much, but looking back later I felt such remorse. I had thought at the time there would be more opportunities to be together as a family.
My oldest child did not move to Los Angeles right away. I’m so thankful for that. But his passion for film called him out there in July, two years after graduation. It’s not been easy to adjust to my only child being all the way on the west coast. I can’t pop over there for a weekend, after all.
Richard is figuring things out because when you have distracted parents, the one benefit of that is having to learn to do things for yourself and you mature a bit faster. That has served him well in a competitive environment like Los Angeles thus far.
So I call my oldest child to wish him happy birthday and see if his check had arrived yet. (It had not.) And after the call, on his birthday, Richard donated to his brother’s fund to support the drug prevention program I want to pilot here in Virginia called Preventure. He thought it was the bomb that his donation would be doubled. (Pearl Harbor babies think that way.) Then it struck me. He really has grown up.