Halfway to a drive to the post office, a card that says "I'm 18." A possibility that will make my heart ache with fear and pride.
I remember the day we met. You had been mine for nine months already, making me sick, making me miserable, making me sleepless with worry and anticipation and leg cramps.
You gave me stretch marks, even though you weren't that big and I didn't gain that much.
You put me through pain through two miserable nights of sleepless agony. Back labor. Homebirth. No relief from the pain except during those moments in the hot water when I would pass out from the exhaustion with my head hanging over the side of the birthing tub. Aunt Raini held my shoulders up because my strength was gone.
Into the water you were born, and in that moment I not only met you - I met myself. Hello, Little Mother, you are stronger than you thought you were!, my heart said at the same moment I saw you. Aloud, to the rest of the world, I said, "Joshua. His name is Joshua.", for it was my pleasure and privilege to introduce you to everyone else. You belonged to just me no longer. It was the beginning of this journey of yours from helpless babe in my arms to independent man, standing alone in this world before God and everyone else.
Yes, someday you'll be hers. She will be the light that draws you forward, the comfort that brings you home. And though that day is still far off, I can't help but think about it. You see, the first half of this journey from baby to man has gone so fast, I think one day I'm going to wake up to find my life has been on fast forward and just look around to see a man in a tux and a girl in white and I won't even know what happened.
Remember the snuggles for me. Remember the stories read and the songs sang. Remember the prayers repeated with childish words.
I don't know what the second half of this journey looks like. But I know you'll be the first to complete it, and that it will be gone faster than I wish for. I know the memories we will make won't look at all like the memories we made in the first nine years, but I know they will be as deep, as lasting, as bonding to our hearts in different ways.
In nine years, maybe your plans will keep you close to this home of ours, close to my hearth, close to your home-cooked favorite things. And maybe the plans you've heard God calling you to will take you far away from my arms. I know this, though: I won't be ready. But you will be. You will be. And like the amazing, God-ordained process by which you came to be in my arms that November day 9 years ago, I will have as much control over it in 2021 as I did in 2003.
It will be okay. I'll be held up by the many arms of mothers who've walked the path before me, by your father, by Auntie Raini. Hopefully, at the end of that day, I'll hear my heart whisper those words once again, "You are stronger than you thought you were."
Because, like you always, always have, you've given my life more purpose, my heart hope, my soul joy. You've reminded me daily of why God values me:
A Parent's Love.
And that never changes.
I love you, Joshua.