Little James in this story turns 11 years old today. Big James was our oldest son, who was taken from us about 7 months earlier. The following conversation took place in my living room on a summer evening in 2010…
“I Like Big James Best”
When my friend’s son James was born five years ago, our James was 21, 6’2″ and 250 lbs., and had long, curly black hair and a bushy black beard. Little James met our James for the first time a year later… and he was terrified of him. He screamed every time he saw him. Which was funny, because he’s the only child I know who didn’t take to James.
Well, last night, little James and I were alone here at my computer. He reached out to take my little Warhammer figure off my desk… and I put my hand out my hand to stop him. “I just want to look at it,” he said. I explained that he could look at it right here at the desk… that James had painted it, and it had been his.
“Remember Big James?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said. I didn’t know if he would, since he hadn’t seen him since last summer.
Moments passed, and then seemingly out of the blue he said, “I like Big James best.”
“Yeah, we think he was special too,” I said. I was a little tense, because you never know what will come from the mouths of babes….
“Why did he crash? Wasn’t he looking?”
“Well, he was looking… but it was very foggy that night, and he couldn’t see the big truck coming. The big truck couldn’t see him either.”
I could see the wheels turning in his head.
“When my mom and me were in our car a truck hit us and we rolled and went in the ditch.”
“I know. I was there at your house when that happened. Was that pretty scary?”
“No,” he said with a grin. “It was fun hanging upside down!”
I suppose that was his version of our son Timothy’s post-reaction, when he was nine, to jumping too high on the couch and somersaulting over the railing to the landing half a floor below. It seemed traumatic enough at the time, but the next day he told his friend at church, “If I knew I wouldn’t get hurt, I wouldn’t mind doing that again — it was fun!”
© Willena Flewelling