The Young Man turned 15 yesterday. Hard to believe he's been around that long, except when it seems he's been around forever. He's been practically an only child for half his life; sometimes I find it hard to remember he's really an uncle to all the itsy bitsies rather than, say, a cousin. They adore him. He loves the attention, even when it's a bit harassing at times. (He will probably deny this when he reads it.)
His nearest sibling is nine and a half years his elder (and has three children). I call him my tag-along, and I've never once rued his arrival. I recall the awe on the faces of the other four as they gathered in the hospital room the evening of his birth and vied for the opportunity to hold him. Once home they would gather around him and urge him to talk; he seemed to be trying his absolute best to shape his mouth in imitation to answer. (He talked early and had the language skills of above an eight-year-old before he was two. I have always assumed that was because of six people talking to him all day long every day.)
I think of the nights of colic, when we'd take turns walking him about the living room, the second son seeming the most patient as he sang "Jesus Loves Me" over and over and over while trying every possible baby hold to help him feel more comfortable. I think of his sisters' automatic mothering skills as they loved him and cared for him while I was gone during the day at work. I think of him in his too-small tux (thanks to the rental company ignoring our size requests) beside his oldest brother at his wedding, so little and cute but standing tall and proud. So many memories . . .
And now I have to look up a bit to look in his eyes, and I think I can see him growing yet taller as he stands at the sink washing the dishes each night. At times he drives me crazy, then he says, "Need a hug?" and I remember all the ways he enriches my life, all the ways he serves me and tries to please me, all the ways he is growing up . . . and how grateful I am, always, for this precious gift.
Happy birthday, son. You're a wondrous gift from God, and I have never doubted that for a moment. I love you.