Today you turn 19 years old. Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you, I have difficulty imagining what you must be like by now. Taller. With a different voice. A longer stride. The muscles and bearing of a man, not a teenager. Is your hair still blond? Wavy? Long or short? Do you laugh frequently or are you somber; are you charting your course or letting the wind carry you; morning person or night owl; soul of a poet or engine of commerce? I don’t really wonder, because I can’t. The possibilities are too many. When I think of you, there is a phantom space. You’re certainly not the child I remember, but I have nothing to reference in the moment. So, when thoughts of you arise, there is no picture in my head. Instead, I focus on love. My love, of course; it’s all I’m in charge of. It’s all I can bring to days like today: a day to celebrate you and the day you came into our lives. So, happy birthday my dear L. May it be everything you hoped for. I love you.
Right now, you are full of forward momentum and memories hold little meaning. That’s as it should be. The future is yours, the horizon wide. Someday, you’ll understand why I hold onto memories like I do. Memories like these…
You were the smallest of the four babies. You laughed in your sleep, starting at three days old. You had the most wonderful curls, until they suddenly went away. You were my shadow for years; you wouldn’t let me leave the house without a hug and a kiss. You scared me one day when I was snowshoeing. You loved to be outside as a toddler and would cry when we had to go in. You enjoyed taking on tasks, and stuck with them longer than I would’ve thought possible for such a young person. You always wanted to catch up to your older siblings, not just in ability but in years it seemed to me, as if you wanted to close the gap somehow. You were shy to begin things that involved other people, but fearless when it was yours alone. You called me when I worked late, and we would say the “good night stuff” over the phone, blowing air kisses across the distance. You had bad dreams but would never tell me what they were, and then you held my hand or touched my arm as I lay next to you so you could fall asleep again. You wanted penguin pajamas, and I found them for you. You laughed uncontrollably when I washed your hair with the sink sprayer because it tickled so. You loved to be tickled, and would ask for it, like a game. You loved to be chased around the kitchen island. You learned to ride a bike just before you were three. You told me once that in the mornings you would walk to the hill behind the house and shout “peace!” Your keyboard compositions gave me goosebumps, and sometimes made me cry.
Much love to you on your birthday.