One Year Later
Happy birthday, baby.
I can’t believe I woke up this morning next to a one year old. (Late, I would like to point out, because you decided to wake up screaming around 4:30, and stay up for a half-hour or so. I don’t know if you were shooting for 4:26, to mark the exact minute, but it wasn’t cool.)
It was a beautiful morning too. We got some fresh snow last night, and the ground glistened gold for you. I know, because I stared at it long and hard while you laid it bed. I sat down to write this twelve hours ago, but I couldn’t find the words.
I tried again while you smashed strawberries into your placemat, but ended up just scrolling through 600+ pictures of your first year. Words continued to evade me.
They escape me still, so I’m sorry if you’re reading this a decade and a half from now, and you’re a little disappointed that your mama, who so loves to write, couldn’t construct something beautiful for you on your first birthday. I really wanted to.
But the more I think about it, the more I think about you, the more I’m convinced there just are no words. And sometimes that’s okay.
You’re one year old, and you’re already a talker. Sometimes you sit quietly and read books to yourself. Sometimes you slam pages and read books to Nana or me. Sometimes you sing. Sometimes you preach – arms waiving, finger pointed, dramatic pauses and everything. Sometimes you yell at Nana’s dog. No one wonders where it comes from. You’re a young man of many words and you come by it honestly, but know that someday you will find yourself in a situation for which – even for you – there are no words.
And that’s okay.
Someday you will have your own personal, powerful encounter with the God who created you for loving you, and words will fail you. You will experience a presence and a love that you’ve heard about all your life, and it will blow your greatest ideas out of the water and you will stand humbled and ecstatic and utterly silent to your core. It’s really cool.
Someday you will meet a girl more beautiful than the sunset. You will be her friend. You will be a gentleman, and after the necessary time you will stand next to a pastor and you will look up to see her walk down an aisle like an angel from heaven, and your mouth will drop open just a little (because you already do that) but no word will come out. And she’ll love that.
Someday you will say goodbye to someone that you love. I hope and pray it won’t ever be prematurely, or unexpectedly, or without a confident expectation of resurrection, but the world is fallen and people make their own choices. However it happens, you will stand next to a bed and watch as someone you just hugged a few days ago keeps on sleeping. If there were anything I could do to prevent you from feeling that, I would do it every day, because it is the most foreign, unnatural experience you will ever have. And whether you talk or don’t, words will fail you, and that’s okay.
Someday that girl who stole your breath away will somehow look even more lovely in a free gown than she did in a really expensive dress, as she holds your hand and pushes your first baby into the world. You will cradle a brand new life, fragile and pure, and realize it is your doing and your responsibility, and your wife will smile at you because your mouth is silently gaping again.
Even you – who talks to strangers every where we go, who figured out the microphone at 11 months and loved it, who sometimes wakes up gabbing, who holds smartphones to your cheek and chats through the house – even you will not be able to find the words sometimes, and that’s okay. It’s not really because you can’t find them, it’s because they aren’t there.
Sometimes things happen beyond the boundaries of language, and all you can do is honor those moments by standing still in them. Soak them up. Take a picture.
For now, at least, you are rarely without words.
You are also rarely not drumming on something, for the record, or kicking a ball around. Given a room full of toys, you go straight for the soccer ball almost every time. You really like bananas and water. In fact, I stopped giving you cups to play with in the bathtub recently because you keep trying to drink the bathwater. You give hugs and kisses, high-fives and fist bumps. You like Brown Bear, Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but you do not have time for Dr. Seuss. As soon as music starts playing, you stop what you’re doing and start dancing – especially if it’s hip hop, you even bounce one hand in the air.
You are our beautiful, wonderful miracle. One year ago today we finally held you, after four years of prayer, and providentially named you merciful gift of God. You have been that this last year in ways you may never know, and I will never be able to really tell you, because sometimes there are no words.