22 November 2005

The Gang's STILL here :-)

Justin - Thank you for sharing your birthday with us and having dinner tonight with your adoring family. We love you so much and we hope that this next year is filled with many happy moments, accomplishments and lots of opportunities to stretch your mind and laugh and smile. I'm so very proud of you. We all are. I thank God that he found a way to give me such an exquisite present, and I am honored to be your Mom.

21 November 2005

Susie, Katie and Justin - Sea World - San Antonio, TX

Hey Nineteen, Justin! Happy, Happy Birthday my favorite son. A few hundred days have passed since we did the Sea World Texas adventure and I have no idea how time could have flown so fast because it seems as if you should still be this impossibly blond, impish, irascible, charming but full of mischief little guy that I couldn't take my eyes off of, because to leave you to your own devices, all manner of chaos could easily break out, and also because, you captivated my heart, "from the moment I first saw you...the second that you were born. I knew that you were the love of my life, quite simply, the love...of my life.", in the words of Carly Simon.

Since your humble beginnings as a young tumbleweed in Amarillo, Texas, you have grown up and staked out such a huge claim in the hearts of those blessed enough to share your bloodlines, or to this particular Mom who knew I was in for a wild ride when you chose to offer me two full days of intense back labor before making your grand entrance on a Friday Night in Northwest Texas Hospital.

I clearly remember the first time we locked eyes and I knew you had me wrapped around your finger.

I remember so many times I have tried to discipline you, to affect a stern voice or steely serious demeanor, only to melt into a smile or a laugh because you would always fix me with a grin and for the life of me, I would find it impossible to be as strict as we both know I should have. You had the uncanny ability to talk yourself out of trouble and right into another scheme destined to land you right back in hot water. We've gone a few rounds, haven't we Justin? I think the count would clearly illustrate that you bested me more times than not.

While you have certainly sprouted up and filled out in impressive, sinewy muscles and flat abs, the real measure of your growth, of anyone's for that matter, is how you have grown on the inside.

Justin, I always loved your white blond locks, those ocean blue eyes and adorable nose, but it is your heart I find myself most in awe of and so dearly precious. You try, at times, to make us believe it's temporarily disconnected, but we know better because we know you.

It would be impossible for you to comprehend, to really know deep down inside, how dearly loved you are by those of us who know you best and get on your nerves the most. The word "adore" simply doesn't touch the feelings and high regard felt by your Pops, Granny, sister, Dan and me.

The other evening when you and I were experiencing a not-so-easy detente, I racked my brain as to how I should approach you. When you and I knock heads now and again, I feel so empty and sad and I wish so much for the little guy who used to think I had the answer for everything. Of course, it was inevitable you would realize this was not the case and you found out in some important ways that I am profoundly human.

I remember a time about 23 months ago, when it was you pacing the floor and wondering if I was OK. It should never have been that way, but now and again it was and I will always hate that I put you through that angst. But you loved me through a very challenging time and you never turned your back on me. I want you to know that I would never turn my back on you. I want you to know that you have a permanent place in my heart.

So you have seen me stumble and you had a ringside seat for the fall, but it is because of the brand of love you afforded me that I was able to get back up and get better. When it was my turn to pick up that coveted blue one year chip last January 12th, the thing I remember most is that you were right there beside me and I couldn't have felt more proud because I know that particular venue wasn't exactly "your scene". You joined me anyway. You made that night so extra special.

We have grown, you and I, and it is because of the challenges and stumbles and occasional bad decisions that being human affords us the opportunity to make. Most of the time, we learn from them and move forward much better people.

You are in the middle of a period in your life where you are invited by your peers to try everything. The problem is that everything isn't always a wise decision and I know that you, just as I did, have to make some of those painful mistakes to figure out the right way to live your life. You are navigating uncharted territory and most of the time you get it right. However, even during those times we find ourselves in the role of adversaries, and even when it feels as if my primary role in life is to rain on your parade, I think you know deep down inside what is right and what is wrong, and that all I want for you is the very best because you are one of the very best parts of my life. If I seem over-protective, it's because I am. I'd take a bullet for you any hour of the day. My role is still that of maternal GPS and though you might prefer I turn the switch off, there is no switch and I'd break it if there was. I'll never ever stop looking out for you.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday. I hope this next year is full of great things and I know you have the tools to create positive situations and realize some incredible dreams.

I want you to know that when I first laid eyes on your 19 years ago this day, I didn't think I was capable of loving anyone as much as I loved you. Nineteen years later, it's only grown, as has my respect and admiration for all that you are and my hopes and best wishes for all that you are destined to be.

I love you Justin,