Nineteen years ago I experienced my year of first firsts. It was my first pregnancy, my first delivery, my first baby, and my first lesson in loving someone else so much that I would lay down my life for that individual.
(I look pretty smug in this picture but I was probably wondering why my dear husband was taking a picture of me during a time like this.)
It was a year that took me out of myself and broadened my world in a way nothing else had. My first baby led me into a world of firsts and what a beautiful world it was (is)...
It was a year of first steps... And first birthday... It was a year of first everythings...first smiles and first giggles...first words, first hugs, first kisses, and first cupcake-stained grins.
He took me to a world of firsts because for him everything was a first, and I've treasured every first we've ever encountered together.
First driver's license and first graduation and first dating...
Funny how, in looking back over pictures of his first year (and mine), how I can remember everything so vividly...the smells of the freshly laundered nursery, the softness in the crease of his neck, the feeling of being a mom for the first time, the delight of pregnancy and the engulfing thankfulness I felt to have been blessed with the ministry of motherhood.
We are still experiencing firsts. The day he turned eighteen and became a man, he was not with me. It was his first birthday away from me and I away from him. Hurricane Rita had hit our area and, while we were evacuated in North Louisiana, he, his uncle, and his father had all come back home to survey the damage and do repairs. It's hard to define but, if home is where the family is, then he spent his eighteenth birthday at home but away from home. The blessing of cellular phones allowed me to wish him a happy birthday. He spent it around a campfire with his father and his uncle in a pitch-black, mosquito infested, storm riddled area of Louisiana. Soldier that he is he loved his first experience of living and working in a land that was unlivable and untamed. It matched his own young, restless spirit and his desire for first experiences.
This year, once again, he is not home. His job has taken him out into the Gulf of Mexico. I have no idea if he'll be home tonight or tomorrow.
Of all the lessons a firstborn teaches us, the biggest is in letting go and I think he and I have maneuvered the waters pretty well.
So I gave him his gift last night and asked him to wake me in the morning before he left on his trip so I could wish him a Happy Birthday. He came into the bedroom at five in the morning---a towering son of six foot, two inches (nothing compared to the 21 inch, eight pound baby that was placed in my arms nineteen years ago today)---and sat on the bed talking excitedly about being out over the water and jokingly saying, "Maybe I'll even catch a swordfish."
I tried to share his excitement and his joy. He briefly stretched out beside me as he talked and I rubbed his ear like I use to do when he was a baby. He was the first one who taught me that rubbing the ear of a young child in church can quiet them and can also put them to sleep at night. And I listened as though it were the first time.
Nineteen years ago today it was a year of firsts. It was a year of beginnings. And it isn't over yet...
Don’t cry because it’s over now,
Laugh because it happened.