Last Friday you turned four years old. FOUR. How the heck did that happen? One minute you were my baby boy learning to walk, then you were climbing up and out of your crib with aplomb, and now you are all mud-loving, solid, strong boy, knocking me over with the force of your hugs. Saturday night as I was tucking you into bed, you asked me if you'd be three in the morning. "No, honey, you won't ever be three again," I said. And then the lump in my throat nearly swallowed me whole. Good-bye, three.
Three has been a challenge, I won't lie. But even as I write this, I can hardly remember whatever it is that I've found so infuriating. Already, I only remember you telling me things like, "Mama, when I think of hearts, I think of you." Or, "I'll go with you to keep you safe, Mom," when it's dark in the hallway. Or, when it was circle time at school and the teachers asked all of you what your favorite part of the morning had been and every other kid said playing on the playground or snack time, they told me your answer was, "Playing with my mom." Your love is my best medicine, buddy. You are my super-hero through and through.
Just the other day, on the way to your birthday party, after we'd packed the car with your confetti cake and dinosaur goodie bags to give your friends, you said, "Mommy, you're the best mommy EVER!" and smiled at me so earnestly I thought this is it. There is no greater happiness than this right here.
Your sweetness overwhelms me.
Alternatively, you say things that just about bowl me over, like when I asked you not too long ago why you were having such a hard time listening that morning and you said, "I don't want to listen to you because I just get so annoyed." As soon as I picked my jaw up out of my lap, we talked about why it's still important to listen even if you don't always like what people are saying.
Three going on thirteen. I spent the rest of that day either laughing as I retold the story or impressed by your vocabulary. Of course I think you're brilliant, but I am most proud of how much you care for the people you love, how kind and hilarious you are, how big you hug, how you don't hesitate to call me out when I'm being annoying. Pardon me, sir.
Quinn, you have such a zest for life, and I marvel at your ability to take it all in at a whopping speed, going strong and steady at least twelve hours a day, every day, without pause until you begrudgingly collapse into bed after talking me into just one more book, pretty pleeeeease. You have an insatiable curiosity about everything around you. Right now, you want to be an astronaut. You love dinosaurs and fossils (like your dad). You still love to climb--trees now, and your bed as soon as we'll flip it to a bunk bed, and the drawer pulls in our kitchen as if they're a ladder.
At night, you tell me you still have "five more energies," as part of your read me a fourth book strategy. Can I borrow some of the energies? The truth is, I feel stronger and more alive just being a part of your world. Thank you for showing me how it's done.
A few weeks ago, on a chemo day for me and when dad was out of town, you woke up as I was getting ready for bed. It was early, not even 10 pm yet. You'd had a nightmare, and your crying sounded as if you were still half-stuck in it, like the screams you wanted to scream kept getting caught in your throat. And then words started to come together, as I scrambled down the hallway to comfort you. "Where are you, Mom?" you choked through a sob, sounding panicked. Some spiral in my mind went immediately to the thought I can't leave him. This little boy needs me. I pulled you in for an embrace and said, "I'm here, buddy," over and over again until your sobs became hiccups.
Later, you told me you dreamt bad guys were taking me from you. So I promised you with all the truth I can muster and all the hope in the world, "I'm not going anywhere." For now, our luck is holding, my scans are still clean, and I am eternally grateful for these days, months, years with you.
Here's to celebrating many, many more birthdays together, buddy. (But slow down just a little, okay? We only get to do this once.)
Don't forget I love you more than anything.