“You Are My I Love You” by Maryann Cusimano
I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audie
nce, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favorite book,
you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you.
I can’t believe it’s your 12th birthday, Ky. I can’t believe it in a way that most any parent can’t believe it. “Don’t blink…” people warned me. But I blinked. The first eight weeks of your life are a total, complete blur. You had to be fed every two hours because you were so tiny…and I’d no sooner get you fed and changed and fall back asleep…before it was time to do it all over again. You were a tiny, beautiful dictator who ruled my every moment. Sleep-deprived as I was, I was in total and complete awe of you.
The first time I held you, I couldn’t believe you were mine. You were perfect. How could you be half of me? And your hair – my word – I’d never seen a baby with such gorgeous hair. After you were born, Papa went home to get sleep and I held you while watching Barack Obama – then a new senator from Illinois – an up and coming guy, maybe you’ve heard of him? – on television at the Democratic National Convention. I listened to him speak, but never took my eyes off of you. His words…tiny you….I’m not sure I’ve ever been so full of hope. I didn’t know that feeling would accompany every moment of our journey as mother and son. The world as I knew it would never be the same and I was, somehow, smart enough to know that.
And here we are, on your 12th birthday. It’s an important one. For years, I thought it would be an important one because it’s your last year before you’ll be a teenager – and it is. But…it’s also the last birthday you’ll celebrate with just one birthday. In a few weeks, you’ll have another birthday, another important day that we’ll always celebrate – your day zero – the day when you’ll get new marrow that will, fingers crossed and prayers constantly sent, rid your body of AML forever. It’s bittersweet. Secretly, or maybe not so secretly, I carry guilt around that your cancer is my fault. I did something, ate something, touched something, that I was a bad person and your body is paying the high price. What I know in my head and what I know in my heart sometimes conflict. You have AML…and along with that a rare, gnarly sub-type. That’s reality. People comment on my strength, but it isn’t that I’m strong. It’s that I’ve always been an excellent student and I’m learning from the best, most honest teacher I’ve ever known. What you’ve taught me in the last ten weeks is that it doesn’t matter how it got there, it matters the way in which you work to get rid of it. Each day, you rise. You remind me to focus on the moment, to keep my heart and mind where my feet are. You remind me that sometimes it’s hard and it’s okay to be angry. You remind me that, even when kids get cancer and people drive vans into crowds and kill others for being ‘different’, there is an unbelievable amount of good in the world. Just like the day you were born and every day since, you remind me to have hope.
I don’t know what the next year holds, Ky. I think that’s both a blessing and a curse. But I do know that my wish for you this year is no different than it has been any other year – I wish for you to be happy and feel loved, always. Ironically, that’s the same wish that you wished for me on my birthday this year. Thank you for being my guy. Thank you letting me be your mama. I love you most and tenderly.