I cannot believe it was 13 years ago today that I was holding my son for the very first time. He was 8 pounds, 5 ounces and 21 inches long. And boy did he have some strong lungs! Benjamin wailed until I went over to him and whispered, "It's okay, your Papa's here," and then he got quiet. He knew his Papa's voice.
I had read about a Middle Eastern custom that each person who holds a newborn baby for the first time is to whisper a prayer of blessing into the child's ear, so I had each family member and friend who came by do just that.
I named him Benjamin, which means "son of my right hand" in Hebrew, and he has been just that.
Sometimes I'll tell him, "I can't imagine what my life would be like without you in it," and he replies, "Boring." And boy is he right. He makes my life more interesting with his questions (often deep and complicated ones), his inquisitiveness, his scientific interests (I can't even count how many experiments we've done together over the years), and the fact that he brings a smile to my face when I think about him.
Every night I go into his room while he's sleeping, pray over him, and kiss his head. Not a day has gone by since he was born that I have not told him that I loved him.
His birthday is 23 days before mine, so I have always considered him the best birthday present that I ever got.
It's nice having a son that I not only love, but that I'm proud of the young man he's becoming. While he is very intelligent, what I am most proud of is his good heart. One of his teachers once told us about how Benjamin has a sense of fairness and does not like to see anyone left out. That meant more to me than anything she could have said about his grades. For me, his success will not be in terms of financial or material things, but in how he loves others. When my grandfather, Papa Fred, died, someone said of him, "He never said an unkind word about anyone." That truly is something to strive for and is something that won't be said of me. I hope it will be said of Benjamin.
We try to nurture and encourage him, not only in his interests and passions, but in his faith and his character. That is one of the reasons we took him with us to Ukraine so that he could see that, while we are far from being wealthy, how we are still blessed more than most in this world. And he saw that. I watched as that experience opened his eyes to how little others can have.
I don't know what God has in store for Benjamin's future, but every night as I pray over him, I pray that Benjamin is open to whatever and wherever God leads him. This isn't an easy prayer for me, because I don't want to give him up. I know that, like C.S. Lewis once wrote, there is always "higher up, further in." But I pray that prayer because I know God has a bigger and better plan for Benjamin's life than I can ever imagine.
As I watch my son growing up, I sometimes wistfully miss the times when he was younger, but I also have looked on in amazement at who he's becoming and I often think how he is the young man I wish I had been.
Benjamin, I love you very, very much, I am deeply proud of you, and not a day has passed that I don't thank God that you are my son.
I love you.