Happy Birthday, Son

Written by Rae Ann Norell on . Posted in Blog

May 22, 1979, shortly after midnight, I was blessed with my second child, a son. We hadn’t decided on a name yet and were still debating between David, and Jesse—the latter is the name of my great-great grandfather.   Named or not, what a perfect picture of health, and of course, how beautiful he was. I knew his three-  year-old sister would marvel at him when we brought  him home in a couple days. By the following day, both his father and I knew his name was David—it was meant to be.

                Flash forward to May 22, 2013. What joy our son and daughter  have been to us over the years. It has been nine long years since I hugged David after he dropped me off at my office following  lunch together at Macaroni Grill. I waved and watched his white Nissan pick-up truck, with the kayaks on top, drive out of sight. Little did I know that was the last time I would see him on this side. It was three weeks before his 25th birthday.

                I think of the song “Forever Young” and am sad. The last time I saw David, he was a handsome 24-year-old with the lean, toned build of an athlete. What would he look like today?  I have pictures of  David’s  father at 34 to compare to—he resembled his dad who was also athletic. I have his kayaking friends, who are 33-35 years old, to compare to. Although they not share  family resemblance, at least, like David would be,  they  are still in great shape necessary for the extreme kayaking adventures they continue to enjoy. I have David’s beautiful sister to compare to; they looked a lot alike, and at 37 she remains fit, and looks much younger than her age. I don’t think David would look much different now. Perhaps on his 40th birthday I can find one of those computer programs that ages a person— based on an older photo— to predict what they might look like years later.

The world hasn’t changed much in the nine years since David left. Politics, wars, electronic gadgets, cars—-much of these are the same. Sure the price of gas is a lot higher—that would bug David. There are slicker cell phones, and social media has come a long way since 2004. I’m sure he would fit right in and no one would blink an eye, thinking, “Where has this guy been?”

                I’d give anything to wake up,  walk into my kitchen, and see my son sitting at the table eating breakfast, or pick up the phone and hear him say, “Hi Mom, want to go to lunch today?” Instead, on his birthday I take a pilgrimage to the

David's 21st Birthday

memorial site, eight miles up the mountain road where he died doing something he loved—on a bicycle competing in a race. I call my daughter to share memories of David. I look at his pictures, read some of his journals, and watch  DVDs showing him whooping for joy as he  careens over a huge waterfall in his kayak.

I smile, I laugh, I cry.

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Comments (4)

  • Marsha Tracy


    I really like your website. It is well made. Did you design it? Comment on your content: I believe that loosing a child, whatever the age, is the most painful, life-consuming event in any woman’s life. I believe it is just as painful, perhaps more in some cases, for the man. Men seem to grieve differently. Clearly, you have taken your incredible pain and used it to share hope and laughter (LIFE). with others. Thank you! Thanks also for visiting my blog http://www.marshasusantracy.wordpress.com


  • Willva


    Your website is beautifully put together. It is wonderful the way you have been able to turn the unbearably, enormous loss of David into something so beautiful. You allow us to see a glimpse of David’s amazing personality and talent, and it gives us an idea of how dangerous and exhilarating the sport of kayaking is. What a great way to let others know about David, and to know how you have dealt with such an incredibly sad loss.


    • Rae Ann Norell


      Thank you for reading my blog Willva. And thanks for your kind comments as well.


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