Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bittersweet Birthdays

Ten years ago today, Cava was born.

I wasn't there for the delivery. The nurse did not put him into my arms so that I could hold him for the very first time. It would be eight years before I ever held my son for the very first time. As hard as that was for me, I cannot imagine being Cava and having to wait eight years to be cradled and held. When I did hold him for the first time, there was a look of pure contentment on his face that has imbedded itself on my memory forever.

There are so many firsts I've missed: first steps, first words . . .

When I look at the photo above (one of the few we have of him when he was little), I love him even more and all I want to do is pick that little boy up and hold him tightly to me. While Cava looks adorable in that photo, he also doesn't look happy. I don't see the joy that I so often see in him now. It breaks my heart to look at this photo and think of the years of hurt and pain that are in store for him. No child should have to grow up like he has. All children should be in families that love them, but the sad reality is that they aren't.

This photo makes me long to be able to go back in time and just hold him, tell him that I love him, tell him that he is precious and of great value. I want only to be able to comfort him when he was crying, when he was hurt, when he was scared, and to let him know that he was not alone. But I can't.

I can't undo the past. I can only focus on the present and his future. I can only take the time now to listen to him, which is something else that was new to him when he got adopted. And it means a lot to him that what he says is not only heard and understood, but that we think what he says is important enough to stop whatever it is we're doing to listen to him, and to respond.

It's important that I not only tell him that he is loved, but show him - again, and again, and again, and again. To show him he's loved even when he's at his most unlovable.

It's important to show him not only correction, but also grace. His life has been filled with the former and very little of the latter.

While I cannot change the past, I can comfort him now when he is sad or scared or has a nightmare about his past.

I can hold him, tell him, "Papa's here," and that, "No one is going to hurt you now."  Sometimes at night when I will check in on him and find him restless in his sleep, he is muttering something I can't quite make out, but it is obvious that he is upset. I caress the back of his head, kiss him, and tell him, "It's okay, Papa's here. It's okay now," and this calms him.

While I could not celebrate his first eight birthdays, I will celebrate with him for every one that the future has in store for us both. I will remind him again and again that he is my son and that we are his family.

No, I was not there ten years ago when my son was born, but I am here now. Cava will know that his Papa is there for him, in both good and bad times, and that no matter what, I love him. He will know that he is very, very precious and very, very wanted.

So, on his tenth birthday, I reflect on this miraculous gift that God has given our family. My eyes have tears that are both sadness and joy, but both flow from the deep love I have for my beautiful son.


  1. Bittersweet is the perfect description. As we approach Buddy's second birthday with our family, I can relate to so much of what you have written. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Happy birthday to you, Cava !