Cody's Family

On our living room mantel sits Cody's picture, framed in glass and silver butterflies. When I carry my eighteen-month-old, Lucas, around the house to name the people in the pictures (one of his favorite activities), I tell him about his big brother that he will never meet. His blue eyes widen as he points and tilts his head, but he doesn't really understand yet. One day he will, though. I want him to remember, if only vicariously.

Cody's big brother, Ryan, now twelve, remembers. I can see it in his eyes whenever his little brother Cody is mentioned, an almost panicky pain. He avoids discussing it, as is his m.o. on most topics, but I know he remembers. And I know it still hurts.

Ry was right there through the nine months I carried Cody. At six, he was so excited to be having a little brother. He got to see Cody's little form on the monitor when we had an ultrasound. He helped me get Cody's room in order and open presents at the baby showers.

And he was at the house when I passed out on the floor. He gave me the phone to call 911. He cried and had to leave the hospital room when he saw me with tubes attached to my arms and hands and feet, my arms black and purple, my eyes sunken and grey.

I remember the times he cried, even long after the funeral, after my recovery. "Why can't I have a little brother like everybody else? Why did my brother have to die?" I would hug him tight and cry right along with him because I didn't have the answers he was looking for. I was wondering the same things.

Three years after Cody's death, Ry's and Cody's dad and I separated, and for the most part, we have been able to maintain joint custody ever since. I had been teaching high school English and journalism in the county west of our southern Virginia city since the fall of 1997, and continued to do so until a jaw condition called TMJ caused me to have to resign in early 2003.

After a twisting and turning couple of years, I am now happily married to the most wonderful man ever. Kevin strives to be there for me and the boys in all ways. He is kind and generous and chivalrous, an excellent role model for the kids. He has encouraged me to redesign Cody's Web site and is very interested in working with me to keep his memory alive.

I started teaching again this past fall at the local high school. I have about 75 tenth-grade English students, and I advise the newspaper. Though the hours can be long and the pay's not grand, it's good to be back in my own classroom again. And when I tell my students about my family, I make sure to let them know about Cody as well. It's sad, but life's like that sometimes.

Jo Hawke

December 2005

Cody's tiny feet