I wasn’t sure you’d be with us long enough for me to get to do this, to write you a birthday letter the same way I have done for Ryan every year. While it was an absolute privilege for us to plan your party, order the cake, decorate the house and celebrate the day with you, it will never go unnoticed that the only reason we got to celebrate with you is because your birth parents could not.
I know you felt some sadness in the days leading up to your party. I wanted to wrap you up in love and joy and birthday streamers and squeeze the loss away, but of course, I can’t. I want you to know, though, that while that loss is a part of you, while this experience will always be a part of your story, it does not define you. Not now or ever.
What defines you is your charm. You have a way of effortlessly wrapping practically everyone you meet right around your little finger, usually within seconds. It is something to behold. You exude playfulness and love, and the rest of us just can’t help it; we fall for you and we fall hard. This ability you have to instantly connect with new people is a gift I am in awe of. You’re the magnet in the center of the room that everyone else is drawn to.
What defines you is your sense of humor. Your genuine belly laugh is pretty amazing, but your fake laugh is even better. What makes it great is the depth of your commitment to it; the way you throw your head back, squeeze your eyes shut and belt out a Ahhhh-ha-ha-HA-HAAAAA. I can’t help but smile, even if the thing you’re fake-laughing at isn’t really all that funny.
What defines you is your independence. You are so very capable. Sure, to some degree, you’ve probably had no choice. But I’m convinced your independence is a trait that comes naturally to you regardless. You want to zip your own coat, snap your own jeans, brush your own teeth and flip the switch – ANY switch – yourself. And most of the time, you are fully capable of doing so.
What defines you is the freedom of your spirit. Honey, you are a classic ‘bull in a china shop.’ You’re a tasmanian devil, a pint-sized spinning tornado. You fall. Constantly. You trip over your own feet (or air) and you go down. A dozen times a day. You knock into things, you fall sideways, you fall backwards. More often than not, you simply pick yourself up and continue on full speed ahead as though nothing happened, spinning in circles or dancing across the room. You are physically fearless, which scares me on a daily basis and simultaneously fills me with pride. You are constant movement and sound. You are a force that cannot, should not, be contained.
I want to remember it all, Monkey. The way you close your eyes, tilt your head back and sway back and forth when you hear a really good song. The way you call breakfast “brefress.” That you don’t like to be restricted with hand-holding in a parking lot but that you’d be happy snuggling with me under a blanket all day. I want to remember the way you exclaim in the highest possible pitch, “Oooooohhhhhh, BEAUUUUUTIFUL!” when you see something you think is particularly lovely. The way you will try – and love – almost any food you are offered but how offended you become by the mere suggestion of ketchup.
I want to remember the way you would follow Ryan to the end of the Earth. How you mimic him in the way you play and the way you talk and the way you negotiate for what you want. Also, the way you know EXACTLY how to get under Ryan’s skin when he’s getting on your nerves. The way only a brother truly can.
I don’t know how many of these letters I’ll get to write you. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to hear you fling open your bedroom door and run down the hallway at the crack of dawn. But what I do know, what I often tell you, is this: We will always love you. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, we love you.
Happy fourth birthday, kiddo.
(Note: Today is not BlueJay’s actual birthday. I cannot reveal the actual date for privacy reasons.)