by Randy Reynolds

With Jacob gone, I'll miss seeing that little eye peering under the bathroom door when I'm in there, and those tiny fingers wiggling to let me know it's him. With Jacob gone, who'll stick his arm, elbow and all, into the cereal box to get only those Cheerios that are on the very bottom, and who'll feed them, one by one, to the grateful Chihauhau? And just where am I going to find someone to stand in front of the TV and point to Big Bird and Barney for me?

With Jacob gone, who's going to drink the last drop from every empty coffee cup and every glass he finds on the end table and make a face to show how bad each one tastes? With Jacob gone, who'll French-kiss the dogs and who'll be the test pilot for the rocking chair that now sits idle on the living-room tarmac?

I sadly realize I may never find another pacifier jammed into the backyard fence at eye level, about two and a half feet off the ground. I may never see another bathtub full of plunder from other parts of the house, or a secret cache of toys lodged behind the furniture in a place that only toddlers and dogs could reach.

Will I ever again have someone to run stiff-legged and joyous beside me down the street and stop to point at every stranger and say "man?" Will I be able to walk past the playground without turning in to push the hippopotamus swing and pretend that Jacob's on it squealing with delight?

With Jacob gone, who can I rely on to write scientific equations and foreign words on my typewriter? Who will take his place as an investigator of pockets and an experimenter with push-button telephones? Where will I ever find another midget to stand in front of the TV with the remote control and turn the channels and laugh with glee and refuse to relinquish the remote until I sweep him up and give him a zerbert on his belly?

Who else in my life will ever break into a grin at the mere sight of me and struggle against a car seat or his mama's arms to reach me? Who else will ever love me with a level of affection exceeded only by his feelings for his mama, his daddy, their dog, our dog, and Ronald McDonald?

No one else but Jacob, little Jacob, whose parents had to move to find a job, not realizing what a vital job he already had.


Ps. Pierce, Brandon, Sam, Anna, Sarah, Mackenzie, Georgia and Madison later took over the important jobs described above, but I had no inkling in 1992, when Jacob left, that eight replacements were on the way.