Every year, I think this day will be easier. Every year, I think the strides Luke has made won’t surprise me. Every year, I think I will fully comprehend how much he has changed us.
And every year I am wrong.
Luke, nine sure came fast. It was an honor to write this year’s birthday letter. There is one small thing you’ve asked for your birthday and I hope everyone reading this can oblige. Texas A&M football is hosting a “favorite future Aggie” photo contest, you can vote for Luke here. All you need is a Facebook account. If you don’t have one, forward it to someone who does! A sidenote here on the current first place photo – what a fighter sweet Colton must be. We’ve been in the NICU and I know how weary those parents must be. If you’re new to the “Luke story” click here. Keep fighting Colton and I sure hope you come home soon. To his parents? Keep the faith, y’all.
Now, to the letter.
You’re nine. It’s been nine years of loving you, advocating for you, fighting for you – and watching you flourish through it all. This year brought about some big changes for you. This spring you celebrated your first communion. I might’ve smiled/cried as I watched you proudly walk to the front of the church and receive Jesus. May God be with you always.
Race car driver is still at the tippity top for career choices. Jesus take the wheel. For now, I’m just grateful you’re content to race your cars all over the house. I’m especially grateful at 2am when I step on one as I walk down the stairs.
You love school – recess and P.E., specifically. You and the boys have a contest nearly every recess period to see who runs the fastest. You may be small, but daaaaang are you fast. It’s a normal occurrence for us to time you running between point A and point B no matter where we are.
Oh, and your giggle. It reminds me of Will’s at your age. As a matter of fact, I think you have the makings of his JFK hair, too. I’m already stocking up on styling gel for you.
Your favorite meal continues to be steak and mashed potatoes. You still love DudePerfect and comic books. And you still love to climb in my lap and give me hugs and kisses. Stay little just a while longer, Luke. I love you just the way you are.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just how fiesty you continue to be. You came out swinging at just 3 pounds and change back in 2009. You still throw a solid punch and make your voice heard with the best of them. If we can learn to channel that you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future.
We’re still working on things like remembering to turn in homework (nevermind that it’s completed and in your folder). GAH! You still have your medical challenges but this mama is so very grateful you have an army of specialists that keeps pushing for answers and supporting us on the hard days.
All those years ago, I thought we would leave prematurity in the NICU. That we would somehow close that chapter and never have to re-read the lessons of those early years. As we enter nearly a decade of having you, I know that prematurity will always be a part of your story. There will always be a “p.s.” at the end of every chapter of life. I also have come to appreciate that the challenges of yesterday (and today) aren’t the end. They don’t define you.
No matter what people say about your size or your challenges or your differences, know this: you have a story that the world needs to hear, sweet Luke. Your life, just the way it is, has value. Keep sharing your worth and encouraging people that struggle with the realization that they, too, have a purpose.
As we enter your last year of single digits, let’s make it your best yet, okay? The world is better because you’re in it.