This time, 14 years ago, you were almost 24 hours old. Time flies, doesn't it? I remember when you were just a few days old and I took you to the grocery store where your Meemaw worked and everyone fussed over you and commented about how cute you were. I was only 17 at the time but I was old enough to beam with pride and agree that yes, you were adorable and a special and totally awesome.
So much has happened since those first few hours and days of your life. Much of it I've forgotten, sadly. I wish I could remember the way your skin felt, so baby soft. I wish I could have recorded your laugh so I could listen to it over and over again. To remember what your little fingers looked like and your fat belly and your wispy blond hair, I'd give almost anything to remember those things with clarity.
I wish I would have read "just one more book, please" and lingered a little longer with the bedtime kisses and hugs. I wonder if you care, or even remember that I didn't play cars with you that one time or yelled at you that other time. I feel enormous guilt, as all parents do, about the things that you probably don't even remember. On the flip side, there are so many things that I do remember. So many things I have stored away to remind me of all the fun we've had.
I remember when we took our first and only vacation just the two of us. Remember? We went to San Antonio. You met some friends there at the hotel pool and played with them for hours. We played Uno for the longest time and I think you finally got better than me at yelling UNO! when there was only one card left. We walked the Riverwalk and I was a nervous wreck that you'd fall in the water. You were totally not impressed by the Alamo and honestly, neither was I. I remember other vacations we took with family. The cruise we went on when you ate ice cream in a contest, upside down? HILARIOUS. You earned the plastic trophy. Going to Disney and riding the rides was a blast. I need to squeeze in more vacations with you, before you get much older.
Other memories flood back when I sit and think about you. Like the time you threw snowballs at me while I WAS IN THE KITCHEN. You thought it was hilarious and I did too, after I cleaned up the mess. In our old house we had that kitchen sink sprayer, remember? We made many watery messes spraying each other and giggling. When I'd wash the car you'd hide and I'd find you and blast you with the hose and you'd do the same to me. Carving pumpkins and you "eating" the guts is a favorite memory of mine. Watching you read makes me happy, I'm so glad you got that trait from me.
When you started kicking my butt at the dots game I knew you were growing up. When you could wear my t-shirts and they didn't fall to your knees I knew you were growing up. When my tennis shoes fit you and we got our gym shorts confused, I knew you were growing up. When I sang you happy birthday yesterday and I could tell you were rolling your eyes I knew you were growing up. Everyday you grow up and everyday I wish you could stop, for just a moment.
I just can't believe that you are 14, so close to being a man and yet so much to sift through and figure out till you get there. I have so many hopes for you, and I ache to see them come true. Above all my hopes for you I want you to be happy in whatever you choose as your path. When you were really young you'd say you wanted to be a trash man and I would have fully supported your choice to be a connoisseur of all things trash. I would have been your biggest fan. Now you say you want to be a video game designer and again, I will be your biggest fan. I'll cheer you through all the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful because you are my son. My awkward, funny, lovable, quirky, adorable son. I wouldn't trade you for all the icing in the world.
Happy Birthday, Derick, you have saved me everyday of your life.
I luff you.