Charlie: Fifteen

I’m not even sure how to begin this birthday blog. This birthday letter.

This acknowledgement of the 15th year.

This celebration of the 15th year.

But here goes nothing. . .


This isn’t the birthday we thought it would be is it? Years from now I wonder if you will look back and remember the events of the week before your 15th birthday. I wonder if they will be seared in your memory, like I know they will be seared in mine.

I wonder if, years from now, this birthday will always remind you of the first time you came face to face with how fragile life really is.

Five days ago my phone rings. Charlie was in a car accident, your Dad says. He has no details. We know nothing. He makes his way to you and I try texting you.

Are you okay??

No response.

No details. Your Dad inches his way to you. There is so much traffic, he says. An ambulance passes him, making its way to you.

I wait at home, pacing the front sidewalk. Waiting.



Another call. More words: ambulance, blood, unconscious, paramedics, transport, Children’s hospital.

You are rerouted. No information. It takes us an hour to get to you. When we see you, a mix of relief and fear. You are alive. You are breathing. You are banged up.

You are transferred again. I sit beside you in an ambulance. Your dad travels behind.

More words: skull, fracture, brain, blood, surgery, neurology, surgeon, trauma.

I sit in a corner while doctors and nurses swarm around you like a flock of birds swarm their prey. I watch your small frame laying on a table and swallow down the unknowns. I think back to the 5 pound baby boy who was placed in my arms nearly 15 years earlier.

God, please help him, I breathe in and out.


We are home now. You are recovering. You are FIFTEEN today! And yet each time I close my eyes, each time I allow quiet, I am back in that room, I am next to you in the ambulance, I am sorting through a rolodex of “What If’s?”.

You see Charlie, as parents, we want to protect you. If it were up to us, we would put you in bubble wrap and keep all the ugly out. We would take your pain on ourselves, a million times over, if we could protect you from one heartbreak, a single tear shed, or a bruised knee.

And yet, even as I write that, I know that to protect you from the ugly would be to protect you from the good.

But man, Charlie, this week? This week I’m weighing that option.

Maybe it’s worth it?

To keep you safe.

(I’m working on that one. I might need a little more time.)


Oh, Charlie, I am so grateful that you are our son.

I cannot imagine a world without you in it.

I can’t imagine a world without your smile and without your laughter.

I can’t imagine our family without your sense of adventure, your energy, your spirit.

I can’t imagine a world without your heart, your sensitivity, and your genuineness. . .

Charlie, your 15th year, 2020, has been something else, hasn’t it? But goodness, Charlie, this week, the week of your 15th birthday has been, well, I’m not sure I have the words for it yet.

I would like to fill this letter with words about your future. Wisdom for the years to come. Directions to point for the days, years from now, when you might look back to see what your Mom had to say the day you turned 15.

Today, though, all I can find is gratitude.

Charlie, I am so thankful for your life. I am so thankful that your joy fills our home. That you walk around this world so incredibly comfortable in your skin.

I am thankful that you know who you are and I’ve never once seen to try to be anybody else. I am thankful that you push our family toward adventure. That you draw us toward new experiences. That you are not afraid to step out and try new things.

More than anything, Charlie, on this day, 15 years after your tiny body was placed in my hands for the very first time, I am so incredibly thankful that you are here.

For your life.

May you always walk in the world as you do today. Small in stature, but enormous in heart.

May you always know how deeply and wholly and fully you are loved.

Happy Birthday, Charlie.



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