[My all-time favorite picture of you. I can't ever get enough of it. Photo courtesy of Heidi Ballou]
Well, I finally did it. Finally found the time to sit down and get this letter up for you. I had no idea you had been checking the blog all day Friday for it. I feel terribly guilty that it wasn't here waiting, but what can I say? I was up at 5:30 to get your birthday breakfast ready. Then I was making your cake from scratch, and brining and baking your birthday brisket (all per your request).
The funny thing is just how well you understand. Of all my children, you are definitely the most forgiving. Like that picture above? The one with the dog we had for a total of two days before having to give it back due to horrific allergies? You smiled and shrugged it off, though I know it broke your heart. Your brother? He asked if it would be possible to keep the dog and send ME away.
But not you. You accepted the bad news and made the most of the time you and the dog had left.
You are still like that today. When things don't go your way, you never pout or get angry. You never slam doors or yell in frustration. You simply adjust your way of thinking and move on to something new. Your disappointment is never carried around on your sleeve.
Oh, but I envy you that trait.
I think it will serve you well in your life. I think it will make you a fair and just companion. You are quick to forgive and so easy to love. (And I know you did not get that from me.)
When retelling the story of your birth last Friday night, I looked at you in awe and wondered how it was that 13 years have gone by since then. It seems like only yesterday. I can still feel your warm body in my arms, as they handed me this wrapped, red bundle of baby. I recall with vivid clarity, watching with teary eyes as Daddy held you for the first time - you, just minutes old. It was that precise moment that we became a family.
Oh, but you made parenting so easy. Your happy laughter filled our tiny apartment. Your smile made the winter seem like spring. You brought us a new level of joy that we had never known before.
I am particularly loving your new independence in the kitchen. Many a gourmet meal has been served lately - and all of them prepared by you! I flatter myself that your interest in cooking is not due to my lack of abilities, but as a result of your own drive to learn new skills.
Yeah. That's it, right?
Either way, it's been so fun to see you try new things. You never seem daunted by difficult recipes or techniques. You were born fearless, and it extends into every part of your life.
I love you, kid. I cherish your obedient nature. I see you trying so hard to do your best - in school, at church, and at home - and I sit here and wonder what I ever did to deserve you. You have the heart of a giant. You love everyone around you, and make it impossible for them not to love you back. You work hard and expect the absolute best from yourself.
I hope this year is your best yet. You. are. amazing.