Today, more important than my own 30th birthday, I’m celebrating your arrival into my life, that day when your birth christened me “mom,” and changed me more than any other event in life by snapping me out of my self-absorbed existence to focus on a child. No other success or failure or realized or unrealized dream will ever compare to my introduction to you and my new role. I felt my heart snap open when we met, and it keeps snapping, giving me a larger capacity to love and empathize with others. And becoming a mother motivated me to enter into an unwavering self-examination and self-analysis like no other demand on my life – not always a pleasant experience, but I wanted to be worthy of caring for you and your brothers who we hadn’t even imagined yet.
I heard someone say recently that every child comes into the world searching for someone who is searching for them. I was searching for you, Kyle. I didn’t know it until I met you, but I was searching for you and feel so grateful to be gifted with your presence for these thirty years.
I know you’ve heard the story of your birth so many times, but I want to recall again how my introduction to your personality came within minutes of your arrival in the delivery room as everyone watched and exclaimed, “Whoa! Look at his eyes. He’s staring right at us!” You entered Brigham and Women’s Hospital that night with curious eyes wide open, staring everyone down. And you continued to stare everyone down for hours to come. In fact, once they wheeled me off to my room with you in tow, they had to come and whisk you away because we stared at each other for so long that your body temperature dropped and the concerned nurses put you under the “grow” light to regain some heat.
And you stared and stared right into your future as you moved through life carrying a deep and sometimes paralyzing sensitivity and awareness, but one that allowed you to be a photographer today who stares for a living to capture events and parts of life and people that others might miss.
I’ve heard it said that parents get the children they need. That statement may be meant to be derogatory, but truth be told, I know I needed you. I needed your endless empathy and power of observation and sensitive ears, the way you categorize the world without missing a beat, the way you feel way too much way, way too often, and way too deeply – especially for a male. I needed your fierce loyalty, and your strong sense of justice, and your articulate and persuasive words, however annoying when they came out of the mouth of a teenager.
I even needed your defiant, high-strung nature to teach me to corral my own impatience and temper when I couldn’t change you or force you to do what I wanted you to do without ripping you into pieces. I needed the way you instigate laughter when you’re in a room, holding camp with imitations and multi-character improvisations and quick wit. I needed the way you write a song that hurts as you depict moments in time and moments in life – most often yours and most often the more painful ones I wanted you to forget. But somehow you make them beautiful by writing a tune that always seemed destined to meet your words.
You see, I’ve been staring, too. And I’ve never grown tired of keeping you in my sights ever since that day thirty years ago when we met in a hospital delivery room and spent hours bonding, just you and I. And I’ll always keep my eyes on you until that day when one of us stops breathing and our eyes close on this world forever. So here’s to a celebration of thirty years with you, my beloved son. With love, Mom