My "son" turns 22 today. Not my biological son, but the son of a friend I helped raise when he was not quite one. I was living in Michigan at the time - rather lost and confused about my path in life. I was working in a law firm in the mornings, helping out with marketing and transcription. But in the afternoons, I would drive to my friend's house to watch Josh while she went to her part-time job. It was a dramatic yet welcome change from my morning responsibilities. His smile, his laugh, his happy spirit filled all the hidden crevices in my soul. His mother would leave and our afternoons began. They weren't busy ones - in fact they were always quiet. Josh would nap for part of our afternoon hours. When he woke, he would nestle in my arms in the corner of the couch while he took a bottle. The sun would warm us through the window and as he fed, he would stare at me with fixed brown eyes - trying to figure me out it seemed. He didn't fuss - he was peaceful. But focused. I, in turn, would marvel at him - his tight, curly hair, soft brown skin so different from mine. Sometimes I would talk as he fed, which might produce a smile and giggle. But mostly we just sat quietly, pondering each other. Josh was just learning to walk and after feeding he might let me "chase" him as he practiced pulling himself up and taking tentative steps as he circled the small living room, hanging onto the furniture along its perimeter. Sometimes he would play with toys on the floor. Often we spent more time snuggled next to each other, reading book after book.
This time in my life was brief - soon I had to turn my part-time law firm job into a full-time one, and my friend had to move away for several years with her family. But I was never bored - not once. Josh filled my heart before any child of my own ever did. I missed his growing up years - but never lost touch with his family. When they moved back, I reconnected - but Josh had little use for me at that time. It was fine - he was still my little boy. His mother willingly shared him - still does.
Now my boy has grown into a fine young man. Has a real job, a real house. He travels, goes out with friends, pays bills. He has faced tragedy - lost his father and my dear friend to pancreatic cancer about 5 years ago. But he has come through and remains loving, kind, fun - and committed to his family. I am grateful every day he still considers me part of that family. I spent a few weeks with him last summer during a long vacation. We laughed, we talked, we pondered each other. His deep brown eyes looked into mine and I saw my little boy.
Happy birthday Josh. May your 22nd year be the very best. May it be filled with love, success and joy. Your smile and your laugh still fill my soul. I love you!
Quote for the day: Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again. ~Menachem Mendel Schneerson