It seems like a lifetime ago as well as a mere moment that you emerged from my body and entered my life 9 years ago. They have been years filled with heartache, struggle, joy, amazement, disbelief, and enough tears and laughter to fill my heart in ways I never could have imagined before you were born. You changed my perspective on the world, my goals in life, you changed everything when you made me a mom. At first, I was overwhelmed and frightened at the thoughts of what might lie ahead, for you, for all of us. Each day I spent with you showed me a love I had never thought possible, a hope for the future, and determination beyond my wildest dreams. You surpassed all of my expectations, displaying a sense of humor and inner strength that gave you the ability to move past the challenges you were handed in life. You have never in the 9 years since you came into this world allowed your heart defect to define you, while it has been a part of you, it is not who you are. You are Hammer, the boy who steals hearts with your smile, wit, and charm. There are moments that just looking at you takes my breath away and I wonder how I got so lucky, how I am so blessed and honored to get to be your mom.
In the past year, you have decided to become a writer, lost teeth, watched your hero Shaun White win another Olympic medal, skateboarded, moved, changed schools...taking it all in stride in your typical way you embraced all that life threw at you. You have made new friends and celebrated the ones you have had since you were little. You have read stories to your sisters, explored new parts of the state with us, planned future adventures such as rafting the Grand Canyon. You have built Lego's, read books, bowled, roller skated, swam in lakes, oceans, creeks, thoroughly enjoyed being a little boy. You have made great plans and come up with grand schemes. The next year will be full of auditions and play dates, stories and sports, so many of the things that you enjoy in life.
This morning you snuggled in bed with me and I told you about the day you were born and the days that followed. I spoke to you of my love, tracing your face as I related the first moments we shared together as mother and son. I know that in the next few years you will not want to snuggle with mom, that there will be moments when you will shrug away from my hands as you find yourself and become a young man. My heart will break a little when that day comes, but I know it's all part of growing up, and I can't wait to see the man you become. You are already pulling away in so many small ways, finding your independence, defying me with your words and actions. You are headstrong and opinionated, you frustrate me and make me proud, so many emotions all jumbled up together I can hardly separate and define them. In two days, your Dad and I will take you to the airport and send you off to heart camp for the second year. Five days will pass before I hear your words tumble over each other again as you recount your many magical adventures at camp. I will miss you, but I know how much you grow and learn at camp each year, how easily you find your place amongst the kids who share your experiences in life as a heart kid. When I hold you in my arms again next week, I will trace your face and be reminded again of the first of our many moments together as mother and son. Then I will take you back home and we will get back to the business of watching you grow up....