The day you were born, I waited my turn as your practically-vibrating-with-excitement Grandma Michelle held you, and then they handed you over.
Unlike every single other stinking infant I ever held, you didn’t cry. In fact, I was actually able to make you stop crying. You gave me Aunt magic or something.
You were so tiny. Your itsy-bitsy head fit in my hand and your body probably barely reached my elbow. You could nearly disappear in my embrace and I think back and remember what a downright magical fit it was, you in my arms.
About a month later, after all the visitors had come and gone, I came back when it was quieter and I finally had you all to myself, aside from when your selfish mother insisted on feeding you. The nerve.
I snuggled and rocked you every chance I got, the little unmoving blob you were, and I remember thinking as I did so that this was probably going to be the only time in my life that you would really fit in my arms.
Soon you would be growing. Soon you would be wiggling and running and HEAVEN HELP ME launching yourself off of the back of the couch with the uninhibited faith that I would catch you (even though I didn’t always know for sure I could), then screaming “AGAIN! AGAIN!”
(And yes, that is a thing that happened today. You are SUCH a toddler boy.)
After that you would be a kid, all gangly legs and sweaty hair and silly grins, and you’d have to have your own seat on the couch, unable to fit in my lap anymore. Then you’d be a teenager, no doubt taller than me and far too cool to snuggle with your old Aunt Mandy.
I knew it would come, and that it would come quickly. And I was right, it is quick. I look at you and see a kid, barely able to envision the baby you once were.
And yet, you still find a way to fit here in my arms. Maybe somehow you know how much I need you to still fit, just a little longer. Maybe somehow you know that of the millions of good things he left with me, you are the best.
You still fit here.
And maybe, just maybe, if I’m really, really lucky, you always will.
I love you forever,
I told Devin to stand over by the TV and smile. This is what I got.
Devin dragged the box and the bean bag chair to a precise location in order to be daring.
Well, kid. I’m going home tomorrow.
I have been here for two months, give or take just a few days, walking through this nightmare with the rest of the family. But you’re the exception to that. Quite frankly, you’re holding us together most of the time. I don’t know what we would have to smile about otherwise.
I have been kissing you goodnight before your mom takes you upstairs and getting up way earlier than I’m used to to pour milk into a bottle for you. I have been playing with trucks and taking walks with a million stops so you can smell a flower or throw mulch or try to pick up dog poop. I have been reading the same books to you over. and over. and OVER. I have been stiffling laughs at you when you throw food with incredible conviction or tantrums with incredible anger. I have been taking a million pictures of you and letting you press the button on my fancy camera and put your little fingers all over my expensive lens. I have been watching as you learn new words and phrases, and I have been relishing each time you say “Laahhh bewww” to me.
It feels like home with you. It feels like home with your mom. And it also feels like home at my home, with your Uncle Jack. It’s a terrible thing to live so far away from you two, especially now, but it’s a wonderful thing that it feels so terrible. It’s a wonderful thing to love you this much, to be sad when I leave.
I have been whispering promises to you since that June 23 moment. Promises that in no way make up for who you’re growing up without, but promises that are all I have to give.
I will always be here for you.
I will be here to throw you in the air and make you laugh that laugh every time I can get a flight and a day off work. I will be here to sneak green things into your food and also bites of pie into your mouth when your mom isn’t around. I will be here for you on video chat when you want to show me your new toy or tell me what you learned at school. I will be here when you want to hear stories about what your dad was like when we were kids. I will be here when you are annoyed with your mom and need to vent to someone who still loves her as much as you do. I will be here when you fall in love, and when your heart is broken, and I will be here when you graduate with honors (or without them). Maybe someday your Uncle Jack and I will even be here moving in to a house down the street from you, depending on what God thinks about that one.
Whether in Colorado or Texas, I will always be here for you.
A lot of people are reminding me how hard it’s going to be to leave. Like I didn’t already know this. But hard is relative after the two months we have had, and to be honest this is nothing compared to that. I’m not broken up about leaving because I know this is the beginning of a long relationship of being a part of your life.
I cherish the fact that I can be.
And of course, I can’t necessarily control whether I can keep my promise of being here, because God knows your dad would have always been here for you too if things had turned out differently. ALWAYS, kid. Don’t ever doubt that.
But what I do know, and can actually promise with 100% confidence, is that there is a God who loves you and will really always be able to here for you. Who will never leave you or forsake you, regardless of sad things that happen in this life. Find hope in that. Cling to it. I certainly have had to lately.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Sweet boy, I will do everything in my power to keep my promises to you. Exercise and super-healthy eating and colonoscopies and all kinds of other uncomfortable physicals. Count on that.
But if I can’t, He can.
Always know that He can.
I love you forever,