To my sweet boy,
You didn’t get to meet him right away. It took over a week before the doctor gave us the go ahead for you two to have contact. It was the longest I had been away from your brother and I was terrified that he would be jealous or angry that your arrival took me away from him when he needed me. And he really needed me. He was the sickest he had ever been. Croup and pneumonia sent him to the hospital just hours after you were born. By the time he met you he was well into his round of antibiotics and feeling better. I will never forget your first meeting and I will never forget what he said. Sitting next to me on my bed, his voice still raspy from the cough, he smiled at you, kissed you on the cheek and said, “Hi brother. I’ve been waiting for you. Now we are a whole family.”
It’s been nearly two years since that day and I am still amazed at how right your brother was. I did not know it then, but you are my last child. I will never have another. What strikes me about what your brother said to you when you were just a week old was that he used the word “whole.” We were a family long before you were even a thought. But, we weren’t “whole.” Today you are two-years old and it is dizzying how fast the time went. But no matter how quickly you grow, one thing is certain, we would not be a whole family without you. Your very existence has made every single one of our lives richer. We love more, laugh more, dance more and play more because of you. It’s clear now to all of us that you were the missing part to our family. The tiny little six pound thing we had been waiting for. The piece that made us complete and made us “whole.”
At two-years old, you are many wonderful things. You are little and sweet, innocent and happy, charismatic and hilarious. You bring joy to the mundane and you make even the dullest of topics amusing. You have an inherent quality about you that makes everyone giggle. Maybe it’s the way you dramatically say “ta-da” at inappropriate times or your goofy grin with your chipped front tooth and dimple. It could be the way you make yourself laugh by pretending to sneeze or the way you dance when you see food. Whatever it is, whenever it is, you bring joy and laughter everywhere you go and our family is far more fulfilled for having you in it.
Perhaps more than anything, you complete your brother. Before you, a part of him always seemed to be missing and we could feel it in our family. What is amazing to me is that he knew you were meant to accompany him through life the minute he laid eyes on you. He knew you were more than just another person and he has always treated you as an extension of himself. He uses the word “Brother” with such a weight that it almost entirely serves as your name. It took nearly the full two years of your life before he ever said your real name. He refers to you as “Brother” so much that many of his friends call you “Brother” too. It’s a title that you love and answer to. As you grow older I hope it’s a title you take seriously.
Your brother loves you so much that he cries when you are sick and does absurd things to make you laugh when you are sad. He takes you to school and the park and proudly tells everyone, “He’s mine!” And I guess he’s right. Even though you are little you seem to be aware of how special your brother is and how much he loves you. You repay him with adoration. His name was your first word. He earned your first smile and it was your desire to be near him that motivated your first steps. You share a bond and an understanding that is not only unique but powerful. When you are surrounded by the scary and unknown you call for your brother. With him by your side, it is as though the world is behind you. You are so different and yet so complimentary to one another. If your brother is the heart of the relationship then you are the lungs that breath life into it. It is hard to imagine you without your brother. You each give the other something he’s missing. Something he needs. You make each other better, more complete people. Watching you two grow together has been the single greatest experience of my life.
On your birthday, I wish for you to know how loved you are. Your presence in our home brings an infectious joy and humour that magically melts away the stresses of the outside world. It is my hope in life that I can repay what you have given us and make home the one place for you where the weight of the world floats away. You will always have a place with your family. Somewhere that you fit in and can be yourself. When the world seems cruel and unfair, we will love you. I need you to know that I don’t care who you love, or what sex or race they are. I don’t care what career you choose or how much money you make. I don’t care if you are athletic or horribly uncoordinated. I will love you for no other reason than you are you. You bring so much to our lives that the mere thought of you ever growing up and moving away makes it hard to breath. A piece of our family will leave with you when you set out on your own. While I want you to go and have your own adventures, I will excitedly look forward to your visits home, when our family will be whole again. I can only hope and pray that you never stay away for long because no matter how old you get, you will always be my baby. I will always need you, love you and want you. That is something you can never outgrow.
Happy Birthday baby boy. I love you more than you could ever know.