This birthday is one for the history books. I sincerely doubt (and fervently hope!) that you'll ever have another birthday in your lifetime spent in lock down during a worldwide pandemic. Thanks to the COVID19/Coronavirus that's affecting our entire world, we've been isolating for about two weeks now.
About a week ago, I realized this birthday wouldn't be like any you've had before and I better come up with a plan to make it as special as possible given the circumstances. Since most businesses are closed (except for restaurant take out), we wouldn't be able to plan any sort of outing to an event or even just to take the family to the movies. So I messaged pretty much everyone I know, asking them to help by sending a card or a letter to celebrate your birthday. Your friends came through big time!
Mail started showing up a few days before your birthday, so I kept it hidden until the morning of your birthday. Your first delivery actually came when your friend Kyle dropped off a card and gift on the front porch. You opened it to find a pottery lizard. You were so excited that Kyle remembered! I told you about a bunch of other letters waiting for you to open, so we all gathered around the kitchen table to watch you read them all.
There were letters from your cousins and your aunts and uncles, your grandparents, your neighbors, church friends, your sister's friends, your school buddies, and even former teachers. The smile on your face was radiant, as if you couldn't believe how much people love you. The letters were full of funny drawings, jokes, stickers, quite a few batches of candy, cash (whoa!), and - best of all - lots and lots of words of love and good wishes for the year to come. Here are some of the things people said to you:
- "Keep smiling and keep your energy up. Don't ever lose that. As you grow and change, don't forget who you were as you change into who you are. That journey will teach you and remind you, forever."
- "Don't ever stop being kind, funny, artistic, loving, courageous, God-loving, smart, and hardworking."
- "You are a burst of light, love and joy to our family."
- "God made you special and He made you exactly the way you are on purpose, full of life and kindness."
I feel the same way, Jackson! You are an energetic, loving, deep-feeling, funny, and smart kid. (And handsome, too!)
I could never forget how energetic and loving you are, because it's always so apparent. But sometimes I forget how very deep your feelings can go because it might not always seem that way on the surface. And then you do something like this...
A few months ago, I worked an afternoon shift which means you get home from school when I'm n ot there. As I normally do, I left you a note with your list of chores and items you needed to do. Kind of as a last minute thing, I added "Write me a letter" on your list. I didn't think you'd do it - or if you did, it would be a one sentence note. I pretty much forgot about it until I came home to find you waiting to greet me in your suit blazer, with this letter in your hand.
I read it with tears in my eyes because I had forgotten how deeply your feelings can run, and how observant you are. I didn't even remember we had been having rough mornings recently because, honestly, that's pretty much the norm for you. That letter breathed such life and love into me, and I will cherish it forever.
So, today you are a teenager (as you keep reminding me). You've grown in height and depth and courage. You now have braces, which were an adjustment but you rolled with it. You're just about an eighth grader already, because it looks like you won't be going back to school to finish out seventh grade due to the pandemic. So much change in what feels like a short amount of time, but in reality it's life at the speed of life. Life keeps happening, and you keep Jackson-ing. I can always count on you to be you: the messy, passionate, alive son I love so much.
I hope your 13th birthday has been your best yet!