You came into this world the way you’ve remained, perfectly.
You came two days before you were due (always the gentleman), in a birth that felt like the sunrise. “Turn around,” she said, “pick up your son” and you swam and I lifted and kissed you and we locked eyes and you took air and took me. Pink ball of perfection. They asked me how I felt. I said “elated.”
You were so beautiful you took my breath away. How could it be?
Your sister named you “Rocketship” before you were born. Rocketship “Rock on” MacDonald, to be exact.
I dressed you in blue. Your hair was red and blond with ringlets, eventually. You didn’t talk much or cry very often. You smiled and rolled around and climbed and grew. You slept on daddy’s chest.
Until you had Chuck Taylor’s and a newsboy cap and words and freckles across the bridge of your nose (which destroy me, by the way).
Once, I walked in from work and you were two and you ran to me in elation, threw your arms around my neck as I knelt to you. You whispered “Mama, home.”
Let me always be home for you.
Let me get on my knees and feel your words across my cheek.
You turn 6 tomorrow.
My awe has not diminished. Your sacredness rests undisturbed. You won’t ever understand, little one. And that’s okay. You shouldn’t. You may get a glimpse when you have a daughter, but you’ll never quite know –what a boy means to his mama.
Tomorrow you turn 6.
The birthdays hurt a little.
Because I remember when you were 18 months old I got sick and was lost and I left you. For two years I left you. For two years I couldn’t see and I ran searching for something, stopping by as mama, holding you in the night sometimes, when the whiskey hadn’t taken me completely, crying softly in the folds of your neck as you slept, begging for a change and dying.
How did I go so long?
How did I not see?
That all I needed and all I sought and all I was dying for rested in the freckles across the bridge of your nose. In the little feet that ran to me. In the blue eyes that forgave me as I walked away again.
Without a word you explained — if I could only see you clearly for one single moment,
I would know freedom.
And finally, I saw.
But that time still sits like a boulder on my chest. Like a thousand pounds of granite grief. Of the time I missed. Of the boy who missed me.
But this isn’t a sad story.
This story ends in joy.
In you and me and a homeschool room (screw reading, let’s make messes) and stories in the “big bed” and breakdancing and Modest Mouse and mohawks, and baking cookies and sand and dirt and Transformer pajamas and stuffed seals and farting noises and you and me.
And his mama.
Happy birthday, little man.
Here’s to the rest of the story.