Let’s Face the Music and Dance



Samuel Lincoln Thibeault Deffenbaugh

facing, dancing


Born 6795 days ago— but two weeks late. He’s been in a hurry ever since to make up for that lost time. He runs fast, thinks fast, plays his guitar so fast I wonder, “When did that happen?” I also just look at him and wonder, “When did that happen?”


When you bring the baby home, and you can’t stop staring into his face, and smelling his too soft head, and listening for every breath to be strong and clear and regular. When you can’t bear to be parted from him even to claim the sleep you pray for, and so you let him sleep in the safety of your embrace all the while clutching at the luck and grace that brought this bit of forever into your life. When you trace and memorize the nose and ears and, oh my, the ten tiny fingers that define trust with every grasp.

Then, you signal back with your caress, “I will never let you go. I promise.”

But you do. And it’s not a broken promise. You let go to fulfill promise, his promise, to run and think and play, and to find the passion that makes his heart sing songs of joy and sorrow and understanding. You let him go, and you wait. And when he comes back, you know you are not finished waiting.

You will always wait for him.


In music: The relative length or duration of a tone as signified by a note.

 I want Sam’s value, the value and the beauty and the clarity Sam brings to life, to play on forever.

People ask if I can imagine my life without Sam, a life in which he never existed. They ask this laughing, rhetorically, but I answer confidently, “Of course.” I have a great imagination; of course I can imagine a life, a parallel-universe life, without Sam.

It is a life without his music: without The Driving Song, Think, Everybody, Breakthrough, Open Crisis, Coming Down Over, 33. It is a life without wild boxes in the woods or my Box-head boys; without Mrs. Ridley, Mr. Bloch, Yarbs or Schatzy; without Craig; without Paul discovering he really wanted to be a dad. A life without my (“stinky”) little boy taking my face in his small hands, putting his nose to my nose, and looking in my eyes telling me he loves me more than anyone ever; it is a life without the most beautiful green eyes I have ever seen.

 Even without the unimaginable pain of having to say, “Goodbye my Sam, for now,” I don’t want a life without Sam.

Parting pain:

It was Week 36 when I had Paul draw a target on my lower spine and made him promise he would Get. Me. The. Drugs. I never, not once, intended to experience the joy of natural childbirth. “I want my epidural” was my entire birthing plan. And after about 18 hours of mostly epidurally-painless laboring, my body parted with Sam. Now my heart wants an epidural.

In all of the applying and considering, and visiting and rejecting, and waiting and waiting and waiting, the fact that he got to choose, and that he chose this school, this breathtakingly beautiful school, reduces the overwhelming pain of this parting to a scheduled ache.

We have known for 6795 days that This Day would come. The parting is not a surprise. The surprise is how deeply I know it is time.


I love you, Sam


11 Responses to “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”

  1. Donna Says:

    How beautiful! Jim and I have had lumps in our throats for the past 24 hours as we’ve thought about the bittersweet moment you are facing. Knowing that you wouldn’t have it any other way doesn’t make it easier. Sam is a miracle. Vassar is a lucky university.

    We love you — all.

  2. Laura Says:

    Well now you have just gone and made me cry… I love you!

  3. John C. Joseph Says:

    I can’t imagine being able to express myself the way you do, dear friend. As I read your last entry of your 500 Things project, I pictured you driving toward NY this very minute with your amazing Sam. Somehow you’ve truly captured mom love.


  4. boysgonewild Says:

    You all have done such a wonderful job with Sam. I look forward to hearing how it all goes.

  5. jmkt Says:

    Oh boo hooing my eyes out. What an amazing 500!!!

  6. melanie Says:

    Tears streaming down face. Must go get box of Kleenex. Dow Jones Insider Trading Tip: Go buy stock in Kleenex.

  7. Megan Says:

    We share sadness and happiness with you. Thank you for sharing such heartfelt and personal moments of your life for us to read about; and thank you for sharing Sam. We couldn’t feel more honored and proud to have been a part of someone and something so special in your lives.

  8. ellen Says:

    Oh, my. Oh, oh, my. I sure do love you.

  9. erin Says:

    Oh my. I love you so much. I’ll just call you soon. Can’t see the screen right now.

    • Jim Says:

      My dear dear sister (and brother)…..I love you so much. My heart aches for you. We’ve been there, it hurts like a hurt you haven’t had before but………..it does get better!!!!. This family has a great track record for successful, fabulous, wonderful, spectacular etc……adult children. You will remember this day; want to forget this day; and be glad you won’t have to do repeat this day. We love you all so much!!! There will be lots of fun ahead! I promise.

  10. Kleenex. Must. Go. Get. Some. More. After reading this response.

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