Thursday, February 11, 2016

To My Son, On the Eve of His Second Birthday

Isaac, tomorrow is your second birthday.  I am so happy I could cry, I could burst, but for now you are sleeping soundly just a few feet away, so I will remain calm and hope not to disturb you.  I love you so much, and maybe someday you will understand how my love for you fills my heart and soul.

This morning, I woke up early, before anyone, to get ready for Mass. It is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  I wanted to take you along, because you enjoy Mass so much, but 7:00 is a bit early for you.  Natalie got up while I was in the shower, and I got out just in time to see her closing our bedroom door quietly behind her, confused that I wasn't still in bed.  She blinked at me, with her hair in this messy blonde mane, and said "It's morning time?"  A question, verifying that her suspicions were correct.  I sent her upstairs to get Daddy. He often sleeps upstairs because if he sleeps in our room, your breathing keeps him awake.  Through no fault of your own, Isaac, you do breath very loudly, and while I miss sleeping next to him every night, I understand.  I hate that when he sleeps in our room again, it will be because you are gone.  Instead, I imagine us having a third bedroom downstairs, but then I start to get that panicky feeling of not having you just a few feet away for as long as we have you.  When Natalie came back downstairs, I heard you cooing in your crib.  I hoped you were dreaming, and not awake yet.  When I returned from Mass, with ashes on my forehead, you had just woken up, and Daddy was talking and playing with you in our dark, quiet room.  You gave me such a funny look, disconcerted, uncomfortable with the black cross that was not part of my usual countenance.  You got used to it, by the time your treatment was over.

We all loaded up, you, me, Daddy, Natalie, and Nurse Jessica, and drove back to the church for story time.  You squealed with joy when it was time to sing the Hello Hello song, laughed when we played London Bridges and you and I got caught.  Natalie announced that she wanted to lead everyone in singing Happy Birthday to you, which she did beautifully and sweetly. Later, she ran over to you to tell you a secret, and I heard her whisper "I love you."

We drove to Boulder for Natalie's doctor appointment. We wanted to have her cough checked out, since it has lingered. She was worried that she might have to get a shot, since she has seen you get so many shots.  You fell asleep on the way there, the warm sun and the movement lulling you to sleep.  You stayed outside and watched the fountain in the courtyard with Daddy and Jessica.  We didn't want to bring you into the hospital, no taking chances with exposure to gross stuff.  But it was also the most beautiful day, 60 degrees, sunny, with moisture in the air from the melting snow.  On our way home, we stopped at the store.  Daddy ran in, and you were so tired that Jessica had to distract you from your tears by showing The Gruffalo on the iPad.  Home again, and you fell asleep so sweetly for your nap, while Natalie and Daddy played outside in the snow and mud.  I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening baking you a cake for your birthday, making cupcakes to share with friends, and heart shaped sugar cookies (just like Grandma's), for Natalie to take to preschool for Valentine's day.  I used 10 sticks of butter.  I wondered which frosting you are going to like best tomorrow.  Vanilla buttercream or chocolate?  I think the chocolate, because it's thicker and will stay on your spoon and the tip of your tongue better.  After the rest of you were asleep, I frosted the cupcakes, wrapped your birthday gifts, patted you back to sleep, prayed the last day of the Novena, and finally sat down to eat a cupcake.  I was so mad at myself for not buying wrapping paper for you, but the reused gift bags and tissue paper are bright and cute, and you will be able to grab onto the paper to help open your presents.  I displayed them on the table across from your crib, so when we bring you from the bedroom to the living room for your treatment, you will see Grover and Oscar and a lion looking back at you. Natalie will probably be more excited than you!  I feel guilty for not celebrating her birthday every month.  She knows her birthday isn't until July, but she doesn't understand why hers takes so long to come again, when yours is every month. But this time, my son, this time is a real milestone. But every day is a milestone. Every day is a gift.

I wonder, sometimes, if other parents have such vivid memories of their children's first years. Daddy and I know you so well, Natalie has always known you best.  I remember when you were just a couple of weeks old, and Natalie was about 20 months old. She could tell us when you needed your diaper changed or when you were hungry by how you cried.  I remember staying up at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and the neighbor girl wanted to hold you, but she was afraid you might spit up on her.  I assured her that you had never spit up, and as she held her finger out for you to grasp, you barely touched her.  She called you gentle.  That word, gentle, overshadowed my concern that you didn't seem to have that grasping reflex.  My uncle noted how much you used your belly to breath, and asked if it was normal.  Daddy and I thought it was, we thought we remembered Natalie doing it. You shouldn't have been doing it, it wasn't normal.  But that was almost two years ago, and we have come so far and learned so much.  Words fail, Isaac, to describe how grateful I am that you are here with us tonight, that we have had so much time with you, and more to come.  I love you, I love you, I love you, we love you.  Keep growing, and changing, and learning, and loving us back.

And now it is midnight.  Happy Birthday sweetheart!

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