a few nights before his birthday, i was facetiming with luca before he went to sleep and we were talking about how i would be flying in and out, just for his birthday. "yeah," he said. "because i want you, and i love you."
one of my favorite parts about watching him grow up is hearing how he articulates things. the words he chooses to communicate how he feels is never how i'd think to phrase it, but it's always exactly what it feels like. that is exactly why i came, because i want you and i love you. but he didn't say it because i felt it; he said it because he felt it.
later, he would say, "you know what i'd want to be in that box?" (referring to his birthday present) "YOU. because i love you so much."
over and over, in different ways, he's saying the same thing: you show up. i love that you show up.
i can't say i'll always be able to visit as frequently, or rearrange my schedule and hop on a plane for a 48-hour trip just to see him on his actual birthday, but ever since he was born and i had to leave for the first time, i made a promise to myself that i would show up, as frequently and as consistently as i could. i wanted him to know he's important, that he's worth showing up for.
we went to a children's museum. we posed like hyenas (the ones from the lion king – his new favorite) in photos. we ate pancakes for dinner. he had us line up in a particular order to take turns telling him what we love about him (our birthday tradition) while he sat there, wearing the biggest, goofiest grin as he listened.
there are a million things i love about him, but more than anything else, i love that i get to know him. because there is nobody else like him. he makes the whole world brighter. i am always tempted to say, i can't believe it's been so many years – i can't believe he's five. but the truth is, i can't believe i there were so many years before. i can't believe i lived 23 years, not knowing how much more joy i was missing out on.
you are so loved, luca michael goodin. i want you, and i love you.