Last night I had a hard time putting two numbers on Nick’s 10th birthday cake.
At first it was simply hard to figure out where the 1 and the 0 candle should go. Nothing seemed right; it would have been easier if there was just one single digit number like a 9 or an 8. But as the sayings goes, babies don’t keep and children grow up and it all goes so fast and I blinked and my baby was 10; double digits.
Never again will I experience the addition of digits to his age. God willing he will live a long, healthy, exciting life well into his 100s; but I won’t be here for that. And I know it is just numbers, but I am his mother, dammit, and he is one of three precious creatures God entrusted me to borrow and nurture as best that I can. I don’t want to miss a moment of the time I get with them and I hate thinking of times I won’t get with them.
He’s 10; when just last year he was only 9. It’s hard to comprehend; even though logic and basic counting skills explain it all.
When I looked back on 10 years of birthdays and memories, I saw a post I wrote about Nicholas reminding of my Dad. It is not just that he is a natural salesman and people person like my Dad; it is something about him feels predestined to forever carry the invisible string from heaven to earth that connects me to my Dad; the grandfather he never got to meet.
And like my Dad, Nicholas is set on making his own way in this world. He is stubborn like water: he cannot flow upstream without a pump or a push or a miracle. Nicholas always finds his own way—working around challenges and convention to succeed. When I wrote that post, I didn’t yet know how this stubborn will to find new ways to thrive would be what moves the boulders from his life. I know this stubbornness is a gift from God—it is what Nicholas leans into always.
He is stubborn in his love for his friends—never giving up or turning a friend away. He knows more people than I do and when I say knows-I really mean that he knows. He listens to everyone’s story. He geniuinely and deeply wants to know people’s stories. He wants to know my story—and Mike’s. He knows his sisters’ stories.
He still keeps a running list of kids we know who are facing cancer. He asks about them. And he asks about the siblings of children who have died. He does this without fear and with love. I don’t know how he knows the grief and love are two sides of the same coin—but he always flips to love.
His favorite radio station is NPR. He’s given me more book recommendations than Good Reads. He believes his best quality is talking and I don’t think anyone could ever disagree. He could talk for days. He loves trying every sport. He loves dancing—and he loves dancing with me in the kitchen. He loves singing to himself. And he has this absent minded way of dancing and singing without realizing the music is moving within him.
It’s just natural to him.
And he loves words and books and knowledge. Even when reading those words is hard, Nicholas finds a way to learn them all. He reads with his ears and his eyes and his love.
Happy 10 years to my sweet, stubborn like water, boy. We love you Nicholas.