(the following is an altered version of the letter to my son last year; i’m reposting it because today is his birthday and, once again, it’s one of the ways I can say “I do love you so much” and I really want to shout it to the world!)
To My Dearest Son,
On this day, 8 years ago, you were born. You were not the first child and, as time would demonstrate, you were not the last one either. You hold the middle, sandwiched between an older brother who is always doing everything first and a younger sister who is doing everything last. Without a doubt, I’m sure you’ve felt ignored or bypassed or skipped, assuming that our attention is too split between first and last to be observant of you, the steadfast middle.
But we see you. I see you.
And, today, I celebrate you. Because you need to know you are celebrated. And we’re going big! Like mountain peak big…Like Get Air big!
You are my strong vibrant young man that burst into our lives on an hot August evening. Though, you tried your best to come earlier that day, my body failed to bring you forth naturally. I remember walking to the OR, so that we could finally have you in our arms. I remember that the feeling of my body’s failure was eclipsed by the love I had for you. My failure faded to the background, and my love for you–my then pterodactyl sounding ball of flesh– came surging forward, sending failure and weakness, and fear for the hills. You, my dear son, showed me that love trumps failure, strengthens the weak, and silences fear.
You still teach me those things every day these past eight wonderful years.
I see the way you get up again: whether it’s physically falling off of your bike or pogo-stick or failing to do something right for school; love trumps failure. I see the way you boldly go beyond your comfort level being confident when you’d rather slink away: telling the truth when you’d rather lie; love strengthens the weak. I see the way you face head on things that you are terrified of: speaking in front of your class when you’d rather just sit in the back, entering a new class room with new students when you’d rather just have your old friends back; love silences fear.
You are my compassionate little guy who has shed tears over not only his own sorrow and loss, but over others’. You are that brave little guy who boldly marched over to our neighbor’s house and gave her one of the heart Valentines’ day magnets you had made in preschool; the heart read: love your neighbor, and on that day, Jackson, you did. I love the way your eyes light up when I suggest bringing cookies to neighbors or meals to people who need one; and I love how your brow furrows when we talk about injustice in the world; and how your eyes tear up when we talk about Christ’s resurrection as surety of our resurrection, that death isn’t the final word. I love the way you care for younger kids and stand by some amazing there-since-the-day-you-were-born principle that you won’t stand for someone being picked on or bullied. I love the way nearly everything around you has untapped possibility.
Everyday you’ve occupied my life, you’ve encourage me to be more compassionate and loving.
You amaze me by your thoughts and statements. You are my wandering and wondering sage. Bouncing on the couch a couple of years ago, you had a thought; you stopped bouncing, sat down, and looked at me with all seriousness, “Mama, everything about war is just wrong.” You burst with questions and brim with ideas and hypotheses even if it means you get out of bed way past your bedtime to ask, “What was before God was?” You love the abstract and the absurd. You, at the young age of 8, are not afraid of being in metaphorical darkness. You are in touch with the brokenness and sadness of humanity’s plight, you are unafraid to be with those who are sad. You question the rules and grab the law by it’s horns; you are my budding rebel and radical but not as an end for yourself but for others. You are skeptical of the “flow” Why are we all going in the same direction here? You challenge existing structures and the status quo; you have no room for “the box.” What box?
Everyday since you were born you’ve shown me that life is breathtaking, brilliant, and beyond anything that we can comprehend. You remind me that the status quo is often unacceptable and you rekindle my own rebel affinities when I’ve become too complacent with the way things are.
You, my dearest child, are adored, are loved, and are celebrated today this day of your birth. You are seen and not just on this day, but every day…every day that has gone before and everyday that will come.
Happy Birthday, Jackson.