The following is a letter written by my wife to our son Trei who turns eighteen today.
August 10, 2014
To my son Trei (Simbah) on the occasion of the celebration of your 18th birthday.
I know that you hear these words on a daily basis, but I will say it again... I Love You; Mommy and Daddy Love you; Love ya! Every day of your life, know that you are Loved and Cherished!
I've loved and cherished you ever since I discovered that I was pregnant with you. As an expectant mom, you receive all types of advice on what to do when the baby is born but no one can prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of Love that washes over you when you give birth. The Love that you feel for this little baby that you just brought into the world is indescribable! You also experience this fierce sense of protectiveness over this little gift from God, who was only born a minute ago, but for whom you would single handedly fight an army to protect… and you know your Mom… I would fight an army to protect you.
You've heard this account many times before but I'll tell the story again:
You were born at 32 weeks (2 months premature)... born on Saturday, August 10, 1996... born at 4:11 AM... weighing in at 4 pounds, 6 ounces. When I left the hospital on Wednesday, August 14th (My attending physician pulled some strings to let me stay in the hospital for a few extra days so that I could spend time with you), it was extremely difficult for me as I had to leave you behind to be cared for by the wonderful staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I visited you every day of your stay in the NICU... from11:00 AM (after the morning rounds had settled down) to 11:00 PM. The night before I brought you home, the NICU staff set it up for you and I to spend the night in a 'home like' suite on the same floor as the NICU. This type of arrangement is set up for parents so that they can see what it's like to care for the baby at home by themselves without the aid of the NICU staff. I was so anxious and excited that I don't think that I slept a wink that night. I also spent most of the night with my hand on your back checking to make sure that you were still breathing... you'll understand this when you have children.
On the occasion of your 18th birthday, these memories are as vibrant in mind and in my heart as if it were yesterday.
As you look forward to turning 18 and as you prepare to go off to college, I can't help but to feel nostalgic as I think back over the years and look back at the cuter than cute baby... handsome little boy... handsome young lad... who has grown into this wonderful and very handsome young man. Although I know that you are intelligent and strong willed and resourceful and hard-working and just an all-around 'well-rounded' young man, I can't help but to be a little anxious as you 'go out into the world'. The world out there is not always a kind place and at times I can't bear to think of 'my baby' out there navigating through all of the fragganackle, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that you will be okay... all of the strengths that you have developed will only get stronger helping you to navigate the paths ahead of you.
Just so that you know:
If I've been overprotective... it's because I Love you and want to protect you from all of the ugliness that may come your way. If I ask too many questions... it's because I want to know what's going on in your life and I want to know that you are okay. If I insist on your best... it's because I see the greatness and the potential inside of you that you yourself may not fully recognize. If I insist that you 'do as I say'... it's because I know better (at the time) and will not be swayed by your insistence that we do it 'your way'. When I walk into your room and kiss you on your face every morning... it's because I want you to know that you are Loved and Cherished. When I can't lay my head down at night without telling you, "Good Night, Mommy and Daddy Love you" (sometimes accompanied with a fist bump)... it's because I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND CHERISHED.
I have always been and will always be your biggest supporter and your biggest fan. As you become a man, there will come a time when the things that I do now that make you 'roll your eyes' or make you 'kiss your teeth' or make you exclaim "MA!"... will make you laugh and chuckle as you recall them in memory. I promise that you'll LYAO!
You are a wonderful son and I Love you dearly... I COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD OF YOU.