Superbowl Sunday is always a big day at our house one way or the other. This year it has some special meaning because it is also Payton's 16th birthday. My baby. My first born. My sweet cheeked little button nosed bundle of joy. 16. Be still, my heart.
Pictured here, I am 24 and he is about 10 months. This kid had me at hello. He taught me that my life was secondary to his. He taught me how to get up at 4:30am and somehow still make it through the day. He taught me that my heart will forever, now, be walking around outside of my body.
Until I had Payton, I don't think that I had ever really FELT my soul. I knew it was there and that it might be unleashed someday. That someday was February 4th, 1991.
And so, now on this Superbowl Sunday, when "the other Payton," Peyton Manning takes the field to play for his first ever NFL Championship, I will be cheering for him. Ever since he started playing in the NFL, we have been Colts fans. First because of the name, but now really because how can you NOT love this guy? His commercials are friggin' hysterical and he just seems like such a great guy. AND he has a little brother, just like our Payton does. Only his bro is named Eli (he plays for the NY Giants, if you don't know), not Darren.
We didn't name Payton after Peyton. Really his name just came from a baby book, but we liked the reference to Walter Payton (I was born in Chicago) and, maybe ironically, Peyton is playing against the Bears in the Superbowl! Go figure. I know, many of you are saying "Big freakin' deal." I happen to think it's kind of funny.
On this day, I will also be remembering my Uncle Bob. UBob passed away during the 2 minute warning of the Superbowl between the Rams and the New England Patriots. It was February 3rd, 2002, but it will always be the Superbowl, regardless of what the actual date is, that will remind me of his passing. I was there along with my Mom, my Aunt and my cousins to guide him into peace as he passed. We had the game on in his room in the ICU which may seem strange to some, but if you knew UBob, you know he absolutely wouldn't have had it any other way. No better way to go than while the Rams were about to lose the Superbowl. My Mom and I were SOOO glad that he didn't pass away one day later, on Feb. 4th, Payton's birthday.
But this year, those two dates merge in my mind. On this day I will remember the very first time I ever witnessed the beginning of a life and the very first time I ever witnessed the passing of one. Both incredibly precious moments that will be in my heart for eternity.