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Seven years ago today, our first son, Maxwell, was born just before midnight at the end of a very long day at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. We took him home three days later and were amazed at how old he seemed, already mugging for the camera during an impromptu photo shoot in his new crib. Sitting in his bouncy seat on the kitchen table, he often watched us intently, as if he were quietly taking in our dinnertime conversation. We wondered what he was thinking.

Our summer with Max was something of a blur, as the first few weeks usually are with a newborn. I remember a string of 100-degree days, having to wait until the early evening to push his stroller around the neighborhood, Max staring up at the big trees and listening to the eerie buzz of the cicadas. I remember watching him sleep through during a July 4th fireworks display, walking him around the yard so he could feel the cool blades of grass on his feet, I remember letting our dog, Keiko, give him a lick on the face. I remember holding Max and reading him Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, and anything else to lull him to sleep.

That summer ended for us on August 14. Max went down for a nap at day care around noon that day and he never woke up. The medical examiner called it Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which is a common diagnosis when a child under the age of one year dies for no apparent reason. Max was just shy of 11 weeks old.

My wife and I have grieved, struggled to understand, and blamed ourselves for Max’s death. Seven years have passed, and the pain is not as strong, but it is still there. Today, however, is one when we celebrate the time we had with our first son. We will remember Max by releasing some balloons into the sky as we do on his birthday every year, and as we did at his funeral.

Below are a few of my favorite photos of Max. Happy Birthday, little Boo. Mommy and Daddy miss you!

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