When my ex moved out, Raphael was four months old. A few months later I decided to have him baptized. Raphi, not my ex. Anyhow, it was time. Tre had been baptized at nine months old, Max at two months old. It was the first big parenting decision I made on my own without input from my ex. I didn’t ask him, I informed him when it would be. And invited him to come, which is a blog for another day…ugh.
Well, then I had to decide what Raphi would wear. He was too small for Tre’s nine month old sized little white sailor suit. He was too big for the tissue thin gown handed down from my great grandmother that Max had worn. So I hit the stores.
The thing was, nothing I could find was special enough. I had this THING in my head, you see. I looked at my tiny youngest son, and my heart clenched at the fact that his dad was gone. Gone, and Raphael was just SO YOUNG. I worried about him. Would he grow up to interpret his life from that one event? Would the rest of his days be seen through the lens of, “My dad left right after I was born”?
If there’s anything I’ve found, nothing is too far in the future to spoil my sleep tonight.
So for Raphael’s baptism I wanted a special outfit, one that he could see years later and know, KNOW that he was cherished, that he was not the “also ran” child in the family. I wanted him to look as special as his is. I wanted the world to see how precious he is, not the tacit message of his father’s abandonment.
What I eventually found, at exorbitant expense, was an antique christening coat. It’s lovely, a mellow cream colored cotton, with embroidery around the collar. It fastens with two mother of pearl buttons at the throat, and Raphael’s smooth brown belly poked regally through the gap below.
Of course, the day of his baptism I was struck by how silly it was to worry about what others think of my son’s worth. That day was about how cherished he is by God Himself. Christ’s own forever.
Nonetheless, I was satisfied with the choice of garment, and hung it on a tiny satin covered hanger that evening, with a prayer that Raphael would always know he was loved. Always know he was special.
This afternoon was golden and warm. The thing that makes Denver Denver
“He just TOOK OFF! I don’t know if he couldn’t HEAR me in his helmet, but I was yelling and he just kept GOING!”
I looked at Raphi’s face, glowing under his bubblegum blue helmet. He was thrilled with himself.
“Yeah, he does that. He just doesn’t seem to have that filter, that sense of being too far away. He gets away from me all the time. It just doesn’t seem to scare him.”
She looked at me, wide-eyed at the thought.
“Well…I guess he’s pretty SECURE, huh?”
Later, while Raphi was still at his friend’s house, I went out for a bit. When I came home, Raphi was downstairs with my parents. I went down to tell Mom something, and as I stood there talking to her, Raphael started trying to get my attention.
“HEY! HEY MAMA!” His voice could take paint off the walls when it gets like that. It makes my eyeballs rattle in my skull like a cartoon character. It’s LOUD. It’s PIERCING. “MAMA! MAMA! HEY! LOOK AT ME!”
Finally I interrupted my conversation to turn to my son. He patted his belly and smiled beatifically.
“Ah came back,” he said smugly, happy to share the wonderful news.
I think he knows he’s precious.