Where There Is Love There Is LIfe

My dearest, darlingest, Alex:

Today marks a big day for you. Today you can no longer use just one hand to signify your age. You are six, and have so far entered this new age beautifully. This morning, you made me jump by walking in to the bathroom while I was showering in the wee hours of the morning. You frequently wake up early, but this was particularly early. You were so ready to be six and just couldn’t sleep any longer!

In some ways it feels like only yesterday that you were born; in others it feels like you have always been in my life. And even when we fight, I want nothing more than to cuddle with you and tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you. Like all families, we have our challenges, and your stubbornness can definitely clash with my own at times. By the end of any “fight”, though, all you want is a hug, and I am always more than happy to remind you that I love you unconditionally, give you a squeeze and a kiss, and move on. Your sensitivity is amazing.

And you are one amazing kid in general. And a kid you are. No longer a baby, toddler, preschooler…you are a full fledged kid. You have opinions, which you can back up with facts!, and tastes. You still ask a million questions per day, and even though the “why” stage is no longer with us, it has remained in a much more complex way while you continue to ask about the “how” and the “why not?” Rules are all fine and dandy, but you need to know the reasoning behind the rules. “Because” is never an acceptable answer.

September 16

A week from tomorrow you will begin the biggest transition of your memorable life: Kindergarten! You will be leaving the daycare center where you have been for over two years, and begin your first year in elementary school. Each morning, you will have to get yourself out of the car, by yourself, and walk into the elementary school and to your classroom. Each afternoon you will take a bus without parents to your extended day program. This will certainly be a year of increased independence; a year where your wish to do everything on your own will begin to come true.

December 1st

This year you have managed to change so much, and yet stay the same loving, tender-hearted, child that you have been for years. You grew in height and weight, sure, but also in social and emotional ways, too. You are forming friendships, real friendships, and have begun to notice the way that kids aren’t always nice to each other. You have expressed concern over who you play with, and who wants to play with you. You no longer believe, as your daycare has tried to instill in the children, that everyone is a “friend.” This is a complicated topic, but you know that no matter what one thing is true: everyone deserves respect.

Over the past twelve months, your interest in costumes has not only maintained, but also increased to include less obvious costumes: Dr. Who, Finn, Spy Kid(s). Your interest in style has also been a very fun thing to witness. Yesterday you wore gym pants, boots, and a long sleeved shirt (in 80+ degree weather!), and a few days ago you were in slacks, a bow-tie, and, naturally, a cape. Needless to say, you are always unique.

Friend Easter

This year was wonderful. You are so much fun and often so hilarious. You tell stories, long stories, true stories and pretend stories. You share jokes, inside jokes with friends at school that I just do not get, close-but-not-quite puns, and funny things that you witnessed in real life or in movies. You are beginning to read, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading chapter books and much longer stories this year. Your favorite reading material, though, is comic books. We have read easily 30 comic books: Batman, Spiderman, Adventure Time, Scooby Doo. Some mornings you’ll stay in your bed and peruse your new comic book shelf.

When it comes to stories and life in general, you remember everything. Absolutely everything. If we pick up a book we haven’t read in months you can practically recite the whole thing. If I “WHOOPS! SKIPPED A PAGE BECAUSE IT IS SO LATE AND YOU NEED TO GET TO BED”, you tell me I missed part of the story. It never ceases to amaze me that you will remember who gave you what, who said what, what happened, where it happened, 5-year-old-style-when it happened (“that was, like, five years ago, Mommy,” when it was maybe last week). You still ask about a toy that was attached to a play mat that you had when you were a baby: a dangling giraffe that you insist you never said we could get rid of. You still ask about your first ever Transformer, which broke more than two years ago.

August 25, 2013

My love for you can’t be put into words. And the most amazing thing that it somehow keep growing as you do.

I absolutely cannot wait to see what this next year, SIX!, brings.

I love you forever and ever. To infinity and beyond.

Mommy, who is slowly transitioning to “Mom”

When you turned one!

When you turned two!

When you turned three!

When you turned four!

When you turned five!

Rest in Peace, John

Zach, Alex, and I just came back from a quick, three-night, trip to Colorado.

Colorado Trip 2013

My family lives…everywhere. Here in Pittsburgh it is simply my mother and the three of us; my grandparents are in Florida; my uncle and aunt are in California; great uncle and great aunts in Colorado; second (or something? I never can seem to keep it straight) cousins in Tennessee. Needless to say, it isn’t easy for all of us to get together.

In fact, the last time I saw the whole family was 10 years ago. In those ten years I graduated from high school, graduated from college, had Alex, graduated from nursing school, and am on my third job since graduating from nursing school. Each and every family member has changed and grown in various ways, too.

I’m sad to say that it took a death in the family for all of us to get together again.

My great aunt lost her husband a few months ago. When he passed, it was decided that everyone who could would gather in Colorado for services.

We spent our three nights in a very funky house way up in the mountains with a few family members. Zach and my grandfather managed to light the grill for dinner our first night with a small lighter and the handle of a shopping bag. Between all of us, we easily killed 50 flies that were constantly in the kitchen. On our last night there, I saw a mouse scurry under a kitchen cabinet.

Alex very much enjoyed seeing new (to him) members of the family: he had never met most of them.

On our last night, we all gathered in the library at the retirement community my great uncle and great aunt reside in, a beautiful place right in Boulder. Various members of the family spoke of our lost family member’s life: his intelligence, smile, total humbleness even in the absolutely amazing things he had done, his love of bacon, high-waisted brown polyester pants, and how he was there for many of us during trying times. Pictures were shared. Chocolate covered bacon was passed around.

Alex was with us throughout the services. He sat on my lap for the first few minutes, but, as any kid would have, he got restless quickly. People were crying, stories were told, and Alex wasn’t quite able to get it.

I was initially worried about how the rest of the family would react to Alex on the floor, silently playing with a small airplane-that-turns-into-a-pen, rolling back and forth as he looked from one person to another. Zach offered to take him out of the room.

But as I continued to watch everyone, it seemed that his presence was not only tolerated, but wanted. The death of someone in the family is hard; losing the eldest member of our family is devastating. But being able to look at the newest generation quietly playing on the floor seemed almost grounding. I watched my uncle, great aunt, cousins, smile at Alex as he looked at them. Blow kisses through their tears.

I think Alex did exactly what was needed: he recognized the importance, the gravity, of what was happening around him and remained silent, but as a five-year-old he wasn’t able to stay completely still. He respected the room, quietly playing, and brought lightness to a dark time.

Colorado Trip 2013

Alex never met his great-great uncle. I only met him once, and it was many, many, years ago. Too long ago to even remember. But as I watched his family, my family, Alex’s family, I didn’t need to know him to feel the sadness of losing him. He will be missed by us all.

Rest in Peace, John.