While at the hospital, I remember wondering what the hell was happening. I was 28-years-old, but still felt like a kid. And here I was about to become a father. I was equal parts excited and scared. Probably no different than any other rookie parent-to-be. A true emotional roller coaster.
We spent all day and much of the night waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. And wondering: When was this little human being going to decide it was ready? Was it going to be a boy or a girl? What would it look like? Would it be healthy?
Finally, at 9:57pm, our questions were answered and my wife and I became the parents of a beautiful 7-pound, 12-ounce baby boy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and a night I will never forget. A few hours after the birth, I went home feeling like the luckiest man on the planet. Because I was the luckiest man on the planet.
We named our son after my mom's father and my wife's father. When we took him home to our tiny little house with the freshly prepared nursery I remember how strange it felt. Two of us went to the hospital...and three of us came home. Life as my wife and I knew it would never be the same.
Flash forward 23 years to today: 12/12/12. It's definitely a magical date from a numerical standpoint because it's the last repetitive date most people on Earth will ever see. But it's also a magical day for some other reasons.
My son is five-and-a-half months clean and is in the best emotional place he's been in about eight years. For this I am incredibly grateful. He also got his first real job the other day and will be working 35 hours a week and earning his own--as he referred to it on Facebook--"bank" (bank = money). This is such a huge milestone for him. I believe this will have an immeasurable positive effect on his confidence and his life in general. Definitely another thing I am grateful for.
Christmas is less than two weeks away and these days our society places a lot of emphasis on material things when it comes to this holiday. In the past, there have indeed been material things that I've wanted for Christmas. Maybe only one or two things for past several years, and nothing really major. But this year I have no Christmas list because there are no material things I want.
This Christmas is all about the state of my family. For the first time in eight years, there is some sense of normalcy surrounding my family. People are doing well. Some heavy burdens--not all having to do with my son--have been lifted. And I feel a sense of peace I haven't felt in a long, long time.
I know there are no guarantees in life, so I realize that things could change in an instant. But I have come a long way this year, too, and have learned to live in the moment and truly appreciate every good day. And today is a good day.
Happy birthday, son. I am so incredibly proud of you and love you with all my heart. Here's hoping your 24th year will be your best ever.
"Just when you think it can't get any worse, it can. And just when you think it can't get any better, it can." --Nicholas Sparks