Thursday, April 2, 2015

To my baby, on his second birthday

Dearest Benjamin,

When you were just born I remember waking to your small sounds, in the dark of our hospital room.  Your brothers and dad were at home, so it was only us two.  

You were hungry, I'm sure.  But I propped you up on my bent legs and took a minute to stare at you.  Your eyes were wide open for perhaps the first time, and I can remember how incredibly dark they were.  How you stared at me with those nearly black eyes and it felt like they were looking through me.  It felt like you knew something, and you were trying to tell me with those gorgeous, wide eyes.  Like you understood something sacred.  Something holy.  And you were trying to tell me.

I soaked up those newborn days.  I stared at you and I covered you in kisses and I wondered all the time what it was like for you.  To not be in the world and then to be in the world.  To know nothing of light and then to know light.  To know nothing of cold and then to know cold.  To know nothing of us, and then to know us.  

You were a wonder to me.  And I felt with you how I thought I was supposed to feel the first time.  And even the second.  I felt the amazement and the beauty and I treasured nearly every second.  I loved your brothers just as much, but I was scared then.  I was terrified by those precious lives and my deep responsibility to them.

But this time I knew in my bones that there was no holding on to those newborn days.  That they would be here and gone in a second.  And I was right.  They were.

But as is the way with children, each age brought a new wonder of it's own.  The first hiccups of laughter, the first time you slurred our names, as though your mouth was stuffed with cotton, the first wobbly steps.

And before I knew it I opened my eyes and looked at the person of you.  You, with your wide smile and contagious laugh and your insistence that life is for running like crazy or standing unmovable as stone, but never anything in between.  Never steady, obliging walking.  

You're a free spirit, in the truest sense of the word.  When you hear dogs barking from behind their iron gates you run to them, as though an old friend is calling you.  And they seem, mostly, to trust you.  You will never be told which way to go, and it is faster to lap an entire block in the direction you want to go than to turn back ten steps in a direction you don't.  

This morning Finn said, "Since it's Benji's birthday, let's let him do what he wants, when he wants."

And I couldn't help but ask, "How is that different from any other day?"

The other day you weren't listening, as per usual, and I started counting.


"Two!  Free!" you gladly chimed in.

And I laughed and moved on because what else am I going to do?

With the other boys I felt very protective of their safety.  Perhaps of their good behavior.  But with you, I feel intensely protective of your spirit.  Your carefree, wild spirit, which I know can't last forever, but I'm hoping will continue a good while longer.  And later, when you have to be reigned in a bit, I can only pray that a bit of that spark will keep burning, and that, maybe in your adulthood, it will be fanned into full, blazing flame.  

I think you're going to do something with that flame.  And I'll do everything in my power to see it doesn't get snuffed out.  

And to think I was afraid, when I learned we were having another boy, that you wouldn't be special.  I knew you'd be special to us, of course.  But I didn't, in a million years, expect this kind of special.  

You've given us two, amazing years.  And I'm storing up these moments in my heart because I know they'll be gone before I can blink.  Even as hard as I try to quit blinking.  

Happy second birthday my sweet boy.


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