I never saw your first steps, heard your first words, watched you smash your first birthday cake, or saw you off to school that first day of kindergarten, fresh and full of promise.
You came to us with those firsts behind you, and other firsts I wish I could obliterate. First police report, caseworker, first foster home, first heartbreak.
But because I can’t erase them, I tell you the other firsts.
How I called our caseworker crying after meeting 3 other children at the shelter, siblings beautiful and tiny, and told her “we know in our hearts they are not our children.”
And she said, “It’s ok. I met your boy today.”
A week later, we met you, and let you roast marshmallows over candles for s’mores, and use my camera at the zoo, and tucked you into bed in the room we hoped would be yours.
Then, as I tucked your sister in — the one who didn’t want a brother, who was insistent that she needed a little sister for the bottom bunk in her room — she whispered to me, tears in her eyes, “Mom, I think we found our boy.”
So we had, son.
As you well know, it’s not easy every day. Your dad and I are reading Nehemiah together this week, and I think of you as we read about the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall, the exiles sifting through the rubble to find stones strong enough to work with. Sometimes, like them, I wonder if my hands are strong enough for the work.
Then, I remember it is not up to me.
“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.” (Neh. 1:10)
So we celebrate the firsts we can. I have missed much, precious boy.
But I was there the first time you dipped your toes in the ocean, the first time you hit a baseball, the first time you got so engrossed in a book you didn’t want to sleep.
And I was there the sunny Saturday afternoon you told your grandpa that yes, you believed with all your heart that Jesus was the Son of God.
And then, with your dad and grandma, waded into the waters of the Guadalupe River and was baptised into Christ.
And though your baby book is missing plenty, your mother who just does not scrapbook is still saving this day — the one that frames all others in your life. I will cling to it when finding stones in the rubble seems beyond my strength and remember your life is guarded, as it always has been, by the nail-pierced hands of the Son of God.