We all have those moments. Sprinkled throughout our lives, they mark points in time where life changes course, the path veers to the right or left, pointing us east or west, changing direction, sometimes ever so slightly. As we walk the road one step at a time, we do not notice how far we have gone until we stop and turn, peering over our shoulder to marvel at the distance we have come.
At 1:08 in the morning of December 14, sixteen years ago, my life changed forever. I did not know what it would mean. It was impossible to do so. I had never been down this road before. Sure, I had heard the stories, been given advice and even read a book or two. But at that moment I had no idea what was coming. I could not.
We had been up all night. He had begun to make noises about arriving many hours earlier and we, like most new parents, anxiously awaited the end of this 9 month process. It was not an easy birth by any means, but when the midwife handed him to me, all 10 lbs of him, the struggle of the past 36 hours disappeared like the early morning fog that blankets the valley.
I have snapshots in my head, pictures of moments that mark the journey: a first birthday, a seat on Santa’s lap, a visit to the zoo. He got lost in Target once, playing hide and seek under the round racks of clothing that fill the store. There were no tears on the first day of school, at least not from him. He marched off with conviction, the walk of someone ready to conquer the world, or at least his kindergarten teacher.
There was t-ball and Little League, Boys and Girls Club basketball and youth soccer, school plays and band concerts, catechism and first communion. Snapshots, all of them, filed away in the memory chip of my brain.
Sixteen years have gone by, it seems, as if in an instant. No longer a child, he is well on his way to becoming a man. As he sat across from me this morning before he left for school I found myself looking back, peering over my shoulder to marvel at the long distance we have come and I thought to myself, “Wow!”
He no longer fits under the clothing rack at Target, towering over not only me but his Dad as well. He’s traded his Little League t-shirt for a high school uniform and his scooter for the hope of car keys someday. Things have changed. Time marches on.
It has been a journey I would not trade for all the money in the world and today, though feeling slightly melancholic, I can honestly say, although I do not know what is to come, I am excited for the road ahead.
Happy Birthday kiddo.