I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. For me, it was a genuine love at first sight.
You taught me so many things in such a short amount of time. It was a Friday evening at 4:50. I was on my way out the door to pick you up for a nice dinner and a quiet evening together. Before I could leave, my boss called me into the conference room and told me he was dissolving my position.
Just like that.
I was unemployed.
You were with me the following Saturday morning when it all went to shit in a matter of hours. You helped me clean out my desk. You stood next to me while I fielded phone calls from my estranged father. You stood next to me while I fielded phone calls from my sister who, just weeks prior, said she wanted nothing to do with me. You sat patiently in the car with me while I talked to my grandmother. She was dying. She wanted to say good-bye one last time. “One day, mijo, maybe I will see you soon.”
I brought you home with me and made us a late lunch. I couldn’t deal. I tried to hide my tears, sobs, and wailings from you by crying into a towel in the bathroom. You knew better, though. You found me and said, “It’s okay to be sad sometimes. I will take care of you.”
You taught me that I don’t have to do everything on my own.
We were having a disagreement in the living room. I raised my voice to make a point and then I walked away. You left the room as well. You came and found me a few minutes later and said, “Next time, when you are angry, will you please not talk to me that way? It scares me.”
You taught me to be mindful.
You often got up several times during dinner to give me a hug and a kiss. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t say anything special. You just wanted to give me a hug and a kiss in the middle of our typical, Crock Pot chicken dinner simply because it felt good.
You taught me it is okay to show affection just…because.
And in the midst of all those dark times I suffered through, you always reeled me back in by reminding me of something bigger than myself; something more important than myself. I eat better when I’m with you. I sleep better when I’m with you. I smile more when I’m with you. I laugh more when I’m with you. I cook more when I’m with you. I’m more active in the world when I’m with you.
I’m a better person because of you.
It’s a cosmic cruelty that a life has to end before another can begin. I attended my great-grandmother’s funeral earlier this year. I met my cousin Robert for the first time ever. We had very honest, deep, memorable conversations. We talked about unconditional love; the meaning of unconditional love. We are both parents. We talked about how much having a child changes you. You drive differently. You emote differently. You think differently. You love differently. There is no going back once you experience that feeling of unconditional love.
Your life began 3 years ago on this day. It’s ironic that, on the day of your birth, I was the one who received the gift.
Happy 3rd Birthday, Son. Daddy loves you. Always has. Always will.