If you've been reading for more than 4.3 seconds, you'll know I'm a big fan of words and, by proxy, a big fan of letters. (And if you hadn't been a big reader, there it is. Now you know!) I like to write them and receive them, and hear about them, and watch movies about them (except Letters from Juliet. That was nothing to write home about.) Anyway, my baby is turning seven years old in a few days. Seven. years. old. My baby!
Okay, Taylor's not mine. I have not been hiding secrets about birthing humans, no. But I stayed with my brother quite a bit around the time Taylor was born, and when his boy was about seven months old, I moved in for keeps. Taylor doesn't remember a time when I wasn't there; to him, my presence was not only normal, but a vital part of our family. I've spent more time in Taylor's life than any of my other actual siblings- and man oh man, I loved every second. Taylor is in first grade, and I doubt the following letter will be reading material for him, but one day, I want him to be able to read. I want him to know that he made me happy and he brought me joy and that without him, my life is missing something.
Let me start by saying, sir, that you are one of the most awesome people I know, and I'm including grown-ups in that. You aren't afraid to speak your mind, and because of that, you've constantly got us laughing. We love that about you! It's one of the wonderful things about watching you grow up, but that doesn't mean that your growing up isn't a little bittersweet.
And then I moved away. I'd calculated all of the risks: I'd miss so much, so many. But Taylor, I hadn't factored you in. You'd always been there- the little baby in the orange bean bag, the toddler nestled on my hip, the adorable three-year-old with the lisp calling me "Schlindsley," the annoying four year old jumping up and down on the bed- the sassy six-year-old rolling his eyes when I told him no cookies before dinner. And I'd always been there, too: changing your diapers, giving you baths, tucking you in, letting you have cookies before dinner. I've been to t-ball and soccer and baseball. I've watched you as the Shepherd and on the swings. It's what you knew, my presence. And suddenly, we were apart. And I couldn't come.
There's a song- "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart- and that's a little cliche, I know. But oh my soul, it conjures your face every single time. It says a lot, but mostly, "Be courageous and be brave. And in my heart, you'll always stay forever young." That's all I'm saying here, little boy. I want big things for you. I know you're going places and you're going to be making people laugh on your way. And much of the time, when you run by me, I am so happy that you're this wonderful person. But every now and then, I catch the eye of the little baby who would snuggle me in the rocker, or the two year old demanding to watch Shane Falco one more time, and my heart yearns for that you. I hope there's never a day when I can't go back because that boy colored my rainbow every day and the he did it again.
And I promise- I will.
Happy Birthday, you great big kid, you.