I loved you from the first minute I saw you, which was really convenient for both of us because the very next minute, I became your auntie.
You were so little and sweet, open to anything, with all the love in the world to give. You are still that little boy smiling up at me and calling me auntie for the first time, except that now you're a man. Today, this day, you aren't our baby anymore. I'm going to be totally honest with you, since you're all grown up and shit, yo; I'm not ready for this.
I'm not ready to watch you march off into this very big, very ugly world all alone. I worry that I didn't tell you enough, enough of everything. I am afraid that you don't really know what's out there, and I'm mostly afraid that I won't be there to catch you when you fall. And you will fall, a lot. I worry about how many ways you could fall; into drugs or into fatherhood or into 'I'll go to college after I take a year off'. Don't take a year off, baby. I took "a year off" from seeing you and in that year you went from 3rd grade to graduating high school. It goes faster than you think it does, that year.
I look at you and I see power that knows no bounds and strength that most dying, old men will never know. I see destiny before me in the most beautiful little package, and I pray that you see it, too.
I pray that you tap that thing inside of you that makes you the fastest and the strongest and the funniest and the kindest of all god's children. I dream that your dreams come true in the biggest way, and I dream that you don't have to look as hard as I did, or as your mother did, to find them. I hope that these women in your life; me, your momma and your auntie, that we've shown you what the smallest of people can do when they put their heads down and reach for something with everything they have. I hope that we've been enough to fill the void your father left, that we've shown you that anyone can, and they can anything, no matter what life shits out in their path.
Mostly, I hope that you can look back on your childhood, the one that legally comes to a screeching halt today, and smile. I hope that you knew joy and love and happiness. I hope that we were able to give you that in plentitude, because it's all we ever wanted to do.
You changed this family the day you were born. You changed my life the first time you took my hand. You made some of the hardest times of my life easier, you reminded me to laugh when it was too hard to breath. You made me strong and brave. You kept our whole family together when the walls were falling around us, you kept us sane when there was no sanity to be had, because we all believe in you. We'd all fight for you, we'd all die for you, but more importantly, we all live for you.
I want you to know that everything that comes, goes. That nothing is so hard, you can't see it through to the other side, if you only try. I want you to know that every mistake can turn out to be a miracle if you're willing to let it. I want you to know that you have decades before you have to anything. I want you to know that no amount of fame or money or pussy will replace laughter, that no promotion or accolade will replace an honest, tight hug. That no amount of anything can fill your heart like loving someone, and having them love you back, can. I also want you to know that love changes faster than the tides, it ebbs and flows, it comes to you and it pulls away and it's never a loss when it's gone, because it always leaves a scar in your heart.
I want you to know that scars are the only thing you'll take with you out of this world, and I want you to cherish yours. They are the roadmap of your life; that football concusion, this surgery, that broken heart. Cherish everything, even what hurts, for every moment of your life is currency in the bank of your soul.
Don't neglect your soul. Feed it well. Love passionately, love often, and every time you love, you will find you do it differently, for different reasons. Only by this will you know the true capacity of your heart. Eat what makes you feel good. Sometimes, you're going to need a cheeseburger and the biggest coke they make. Get them. Sometimes, you're going to need a salad. Get that, too. It doesn't make you a sissy. And skip the brussel sprouts. They are gross and they don't do anything for you that you can't get in a Flintstone's vitamin, and I'm sorry we've lied to you all these years and made you eat them anyway, 'for your own good'. When you become a father, this particular brand of torture will be passed down to you.
Don't become a father. Good god in heaven, don't do it yet. You will spend the next 15 years feeling very grown, indeed, and very confident in every decision you make, and one day you'll wake up and realize that you were wrong about almost everything. Allow yourself that margin of error to trip and fall, to dig holes and climb out of them. Give yourself the gift of discovering you. There is plenty of time to fall truly, madly, deeply in love, and fall right back out of it, and there is plenty of time to have a family. Until then, let us be your family. Let yourself hang on to this magic you live under the spell of. Children are the most amazing, wonderful, life altering gift we're ever given in life, and they are motherfucking hard. And really expensive, but you already know that Mr I Only Wear Nike and Underarmour, now don't you? Go to college, be broke and starve, read books and learn to shoot pool and drink beer and play football and kiss girls and grow just a little more, okay? Live YOUR life, the life you've earned. And put a damn condom on while you do it.
Aside: I just threw up a little. Let's never say the word condom again, shall we?
But most importantly, remember this. No matter where you go or what you do, Team Edward is waiting in the wings, watching you more closely than you'd like, and we're cheering with raucous voices for you. We will always hold your hand, and we'll always lift you up, and we'll always be there, waiting. Even when you can't see us, even when you think there is no one in the world for you, we will always be there. You are the mortar that our family's walls are built out of, you are our beacon bringing us all back home.