I love watching how much Cava has changed in such a short period of time. Seeing his interests change and develop. One of those is his great love of birds. I asked him once, "Did you love birds this much back in Ukraine?"
"No, I didn't pay any attention to them," he replied.
"Why not?" I asked.
"I was too busy watching out for myself."
This answer saddened me that he could not even have a moment to simply notice birds or flowers. But now that he's part of our family, he feels safe enough that he can stop and notice things in nature and to make sure that we stop and notice them, too. He also feels safe and secure enough to be able to burst out in loud, uproarious laughter (something else he said he could have never done back in the orphanage system). So many pleasures and joys that we take for granted are real gifts and treasures for him. Cava has helped me to see that.
I have watched him go from a child who could not go through a week of school without getting suspended to having weeks of all "green" days, making "A's" and "B's," and was be elected to student council. I have watched his school embrace, love, and encourage him (especially those who knew him when he first arrived here and have seen the miraculous change that has taken place in him). This is all so new to him. For eight years, he never experienced the love of others and now so many people love him. They see how truly unique and special he is.
My heart only expands when I think of Cava. And Cava has such a big heart. A compassionate and caring heart. He is sensitive and gentle despite the harshness of his past. There is a generosity of spirit and a real love of life in him that I admire.
And I cannot help but smile when I think of him - especially when I think of his own big Cava smiles. His smile entered my heart and has made its home there. He brings joy and laughter to my days.
I love that he greets me every morning with a big Cava hug and a, "Good morning, Papa. I love you." He then likes it when I sing:
Good morning, Cava. How are you today?
I love you Cava,
in each and every way.
And I do love him in each and every way. Good and bad. Ups and downs. I love Cava as Cava is. And that love, shown by our family and friends, is what has brought him to where he is now.
There are just so many reasons to love this amazing boy.
He sees the world as so much bigger now and, because of him, so do I. Part of this is because Cava has sense of wonder and takes delight in seeing flowers or finding a bird feather. With the latter, he takes them home, goes through his bird guides, and tries to identify what bird came from.
He has helped me to be a better, more understanding, and patient Papa.
He has helped me see God more fully and get a better understanding of God as Father, especially an adoptive Father.
I love Cava deeply and, in so many ways, he is a hero to me. He is brave, funny, kind and tender-hearted. He has a strength and a fragility. He is full of cocky insecurities. Yet he doesn't let anything stop him from trying harder, working harder, and wanting to be more. His dreams are not just that but goals that he strives towards.
I cannot imagine my life without him in it. Nor can anyone else who has met him.
Happy birthday, my son. You life is truly a gift.
I love you more than you will ever know.
(Cava is on the first row, second from the left)