My darling boy,
I know I say this a lot, and you roll your eyes when I do, but I can’t believe how quickly time flies. It seems like just a little while ago when you were my little chubby baby boy with electric eyes and an eagerness to discover everything about the world.
And now, today, you crossed the gym floor to shake the hand of your middle school principal and are done with eight years of growing up in one building, grade one through grade eight, on to high school in the fall.
Your principal said to be cool to everyone, that you never know when your last interaction will be your last, and you’d hate to leave anyone on bad terms.
Your principal said be the best YOU you can be, you get only one shot at being YOU, do it well.
He’s right. As I see, while you skip out of middle school headed for bigger and brighter places, I know how fast life passes, I know how fleeting the moments can be.
Soon, you will be a grown man, out of my home, into the world on your own journey to leave a mark, build a legacy. You will fall in love. You will achieve highs. You will suffer lows. You will feel so utterly alone at times, and at times you will fell incredibly connected.
What I need you to know is that you will never be alone, even if you don’t believe me. My love resides in your heart, and I will always see in you every good thing.
I know middle school was an awkward time and you are glad to be done with it. Growing up IS awkward. Many people don’t know who they are until their 40s or 50s, and some never figure it out at all.
You can’t hear me now, but I remember when you were little and you marched to your own tune, never caring what anyone else thought. You purposely mismatched your clothes, and I was so proud of your independence.
You wore hats and ties to school. Everyone knew you for your style.
You sang loud and well. I remember the summer party in the neighborhood park, and hearing your voice over the loud speaker all the way across the commons area, so proud that my son had no fear of putting himself and his talent out there for all the world to enjoy.
When you were very little, we took walks and you threw your hands around tree trunks, loving the smell of the earth as I do. You looked up as I taught you, in wonder at the majesty of tall trees and clouds skipping across the blue sky.
You made friends instanteously at the park, never caring to ask the other child’s name, just loving the moment of playing together.
Middle school changed that. You became aware of your place in this world, that you are not alone, that not everyone is nice.
I hate that you had to realize the cold, harsh truth of the real world.
I wanted to protect you from that truth forever. I wanted to preserve your innocence. But a parent can do only so much. Life shows its ugly side whether we want it to or not.
On this day, I want to assure you that you can go back, you can return to that time of wonder and beauty and exhilaration at the brilliance of this world.
You will once again recognize the miracles of a life.
And one day, soon I hope, you will remember how special, unique and talented YOU are. You will see once again that mismatching clothes or wearing bowler hats or singing at the top of your lungs in the park on the spur of a moment is perfectly fine and in fact, encouraged.
You will remember to be brave to be you. You will understand that your principal’s words, and my love of who you are, are true, and all judgment, all meanness, all cowardliness is false.
You will see that the meanest people are the most broken and I hope I have taught you to have compassion for them, but not to be broken by their attempts to break you.
You will learn that to love another, you have to first love yourself. And when you learn that, you will learn that there is no greater love than a zeal for life and an appreciation for everything around you.
You will learn one day that everything you hoped to attain, have and own matters little compared with true joy at waking up each morning and breathing in the fresh air.
And I hope, that as you step foot into the world on your own, you will remember that I am always your safe haven, I am always your island in every storm.
I hope we will continue to talk late in the night and eat sushi together on “dates” and kayak down quiet winding rivers. I hope you will hike with me again and when I bristle as you step toward the edge of the cliff, reassure me like you did years ago that you will, in fact, be fine.
My darling boy, I intend to walk alongside you all the days of the rest of my life with glee, with courage, with unending love for every fiber of who you are. And I hope you realize that this is the best truth of all.