Seventeen years ago, I was just a few short hours from meeting you. Thirty hours had passed since I arrived at the hospital and still you weren't in my arms. As I look back on that time now, it dawns on me that those hours in labor were calm and steady, but oh so slow--yet strong forward progress all along.
You're arrival was easy: no surprises, no prolonged hard pushing, no pulling or prodding needed. You arrived quietly into our world, full of wonder and wide awake, crying just enough to let everyone know you were healthy (and maybe a little cold!) so we wouldn't worry about you. Finally you were placed in my arms. I marveled at the expression on your face-serene, thinking, observing. Your eyes slowly and steadily looked around the room, taking in the details, until we started talking to you. From that moment you didn't take your eyes off your parents; it was proof, for me, that babies really do hear while still in the womb, because it was undeniable that you were listening now to voices that were familiar to you--you knew us and only wanted to see and hear us. As you grew as a newborn, there were so many times I would know you were looking at me as I held you. I didn't have to look, I could feel your gaze studying me-patiently waiting until I would look down and begin giving you more knowledge about the world around you. I called you my "thinker," you always seemed to be waiting--no, needing more information and words.
At a few months old you were still such a quiet baby. Although you didn't sleep through the night, those late night feedings were precious to me because you were so attentive and I have no doubt you were truly listening to every word. During the day you still were undemanding, allowing Alexis the attention she still needed (training to be the typical first child spotlighter we all adore her for!). Occasionally when you finally just wanted someone to talk to you, we'd hear a "HEY" come from this little baby boy that barely babbled yet (this was around 4 months old), and I'd know it was time to sit and "talk" with you. It was comical hearing "HEY" from a baby, and no one believed me until they would also hear it.
Growing into a little boy, the focus and thinking remained. Hitting the little toy tee-ball took precision: you would place it on the tee just right and whack that little ball! Playing golf in the house required getting down on the floor so you could acquire the exact angle needed to hit the ball to the "hole." As you grew and began playing outside, every activity received your precision; always thinking and processing, then doing. Karate at 3 years old was serious business, as was soccer. When it came to sports you took them on as a pro. People couldn't get over your soccer tactics, how you would hang back initially, quickly surveying and observing what was happening on the field--and then in for the steal and/or the goal.
There was always incredible sensitivity obvious with you, too. Even as a baby, I can remember you seeming to notice if I was upset about something and you would snuggle into my arms. If Alexis was upset about anything you would be as upset, or more, and seemed to have to comfort her. How you adored your sister! I remember you went through a time of waking up very early in the morning (4:30 am!) for the day, and every half hour or so, you would go to the bottom of the steps asking "SSSSSS? SSSSSS?", and would point upstairs; I'd tell you that Alexis was still sleeping, and you'd toddle off and play some more until either you'd ask again or she would come down. The day Lexi went to kindergarten was traumatic for both of us! I held it together, didn't cry--until we got home and you started sobbing at the breakfast table, crying and saying how you missed Alexis. We found our comfort sitting on the floor in front of the fridge eating baby carrots. (hmm, I'll never quite figure out why it wasn't chocolate....)
Humor was definitely there with you early, as well. I will never forget the random moment at the dinner table, as you were given a bowl of ice cream, when you asked "can I put my face in this?" Or another dinner moment when you started doing what looked like a robot imitation, and, when asked what in the world you were doing, your reply of "I Chuck E. Cheese!!" was random and hilarious!
Soon school came for you, too, and you gave school the same attention and thought as everything else you did. The comments from your teachers were always the same--smart, friendly, and compassionate. You always helped any classmates that needed help, never waiting for a teacher to tell you to help. You were a gentleman always.
As I look back now, at who you were even before you were born, it all makes sense for who you are now. You are a young adult that perseveres; you keep moving forward and you keep making steady, strong progress. People may not always realize all that you are accomplishing until the end result is achieved--then there is recognition and praise, met by you with humility and quietness. Your calm demeanor disguises all that is going on in your mind. You are always thinking and processing, and you have so much emotion and feeling inside you that every once in a while they brew their way out--and now that you are older there is a bit of a deviance from that little baby shout of "HEY!", but I need to remind myself that that is all it is: you've hit a moment of needing some attention after allowing everyone else to have theirs. I don't know if I've ever known a teen boy--ugh, I'm sorry--teen guy so full of compassion and passion, so filled with a desire to do good and be good. Not easy traits to have in a world where blunt and rough are more socially accepted than kindness and generousness, yet I have no doubt that you will take those warm gifts inside you and do amazing things. I can't express the love I feel for you because words would not do justice to the powerful emotions I feel for you; I can simply say I love you Dylan. I love everything about you and want the world for you. I believe with all my heart you will do great things; you will be a man that is respected and loved.
Happy Birthday to you, Dylan. I love you.