I had the opportunity to meet with a bereaved family, the other day, and they passed around a letter that had been written by the mother of the one whom they'd just lost. The words were simple but had held deep meaning, obviously, for their dearly departed, who had kept them close for more than twenty-five years. They held meaning, still, for those left behind; I could see that clearly.
I couldn't help but think of you and this birthday letter, almost two months overdue.
I want to tell you how proud of you I am. I could start listing your achievements one by one, and we'd have us a right long letter, but (while I appreciate those) it's not about your achievements and has never been. You mean so much more to me than anything--or all the things--you've ever achieved.
I love you for you. You make it so easy, loving me for me, the way you do. I worried about these teenage years; thank you for being gentle with me. You would never think of raising your voice to me; thank you, and thank you for the ways we work and talk it out.
Thank you for every time you've seen me. I didn't expect your eyes, at this stage in our lives, to be the ones seeking my eyes across the room, but so it is. One of your sisters will say something funny, and we'll look at one another and laugh without a word. Or something not-so-funny will happen, and your eyes will say: Are you okay? and then, sometimes: I'm sorry you're not.
And here you come with your cracked iPhone: "Watch this, Mom," and that talk-show duo you like met Merle Haggard, whom I love. I pass you a book; you read it right away. You come in the door waving something: "Look what I found, cleaning out my room at Dad's: a Regal gift card! Do you wanna go to the movies with me?" I'm so touched that you've chosen me over any one of your excellent friends.
You let me choose the movie: Still Alice. I'm crying at the end, and (our having just watched both What Dreams May Come and Dead Poet's Society) you wonder aloud what's up with me and the depressing movies. "You know that's my greatest fear; right?" I ask: "Alzheimer's?" and you nod. You know. Thank you for knowing. Thank you for being the one to ask if I've been writing. Thank you for snatching up my blog books as soon as they arrive and reading them straight through.
Thank you for, without complaint, going to church and singing in choir with me. I know you're doing those things for me, right now; I'm grateful. Thank you for never acting embarrassed of me in front of your friends. Thank you for ruffling my hair on your way to bed. And you know when Jim was sick with the kidney stone and we ran, that night, to Food Lion? I felt uncomfortable, suddenly, about wearing fleece pajama pants and said: "I really should've changed clothes before we left."
"Nah, Mamsie, you so swag," you said, and you took my arm. Thank you so much for that.
You're a good son. You bless my life. I know it may not always be as sweet and uncomplicated between us as it is right now, but I want you to know: I'm just crazy about you at fifteen.
|Cade with Phillip, Andrew, and Sam|