Dear little one,
I am your mommy and I’m not prone to gushy outbursts like what will directly follow. No, I hide behind humor and sarcasm, much of the time. But today I’d like to make an exception.
For your birthday.
You are my 5-year-old boy today.
I can’t help but think back to your joyous (pain-free, drug-addled, thank you modern medicine) birth. I can’t help but think back to the chaos that followed exactly 14 hours later.
We didn’t know what was wrong. We didn’t know if you would live or if you would die. Nobody had answers. You were so small. They handed you the teeniest blanket of blue fleece and itty bitty circus animals and put you on the helicopter.
There were surgeries, and tubes and confusion. There were 30 days in luxurious accommodations, the NICU. Every breath from every baby in every moment held the promise of life or death.
There were absent mommies and daddies and lonely babies there. There was a woman singing a Native song to her dying baby son. You made it through when other babies weren’t as lucky.
We don’t care that you came with a little something extra, those misbehaving cells of yours. You are not that. You are you.
You are gap teeth and cheeky smiles and cuddles for days and pizza cravings and rough housing, not to mention a hug magnet. You are a bottomless well of empathy full of glittering, fresh, cool kindness to offer others because even this young you know what suffering is.
Your body is little but your heart is big and I’m proud to call you my little one, Eli. My little one. My buddy. My son.
Love, Juliana, your mom