Dearest Catalina,

Our son is turning 10. This beautiful baby you entrusted me to raise is growing into such a handsome young man. Physically he is strong, determined, and fearless. He’s what you call a natural athlete; he can do it all and do it well. Mentally he is sharp, witty, and soaks up his education like a sponge. He is constantly building, tinkering, or researching something new. Emotionally he is fragile, reactionary, and sometimes angry. He struggles with sleep issues and the need to prove his worth through various forms of winning. Catalina, our son is a delicate mix of all of these wondrous and worrisome characteristics.

He is very excited about his 10th birthday that’s just a few days away now. There will be a loud game of miniature golf with his buddies and a party of pizza and root beer to celebrate his entrance into double-digit life. But at the same time, another wave of ache has crested upon his soul. This always happens around his birthday, but this year it’s a bit more intense. There seems to be a struggle in him to officially become, in his own words, a big boy. I think it’s because he has to completely let go of having your presence appear in his childhood and that fact – at times – seems to tear him in two.

His birthday goals are a moving target this year. No matter how I try or what I suggest, every discussion about this annual celebration ends in tears. Last weekend during another one of his meltdowns I asked him to write down 3 things he absolutely needed to have for this birthday to be a success. But, he couldn’t do it. He just shook his head and couldn’t create a simple list of 3 for me. That’s when I drew him to my lap and whispered in his ear that what he really wanted for this birthday, as with every other birthday, was the one thing I couldn’t give him. When I said your name, he released the sobs that had been raging like an internal hurricane within his soul.

Once the pressure released and he settled down a bit I suggested something new. I opened my laptop and said, “let’s write a letter to Mama Catalina.” That stunned him a bit and at first, he resisted this new idea. I reworded the question and this time I asked, what would you like Mama Catalina to know about you when you turned 10? Slowly, with his head buried in my chest, the words started to tumble out…..

I wish you were here.
I wish you could see me become a big boy.
I wish you could see how tall I am. (53 7/8 inches tall)
I wish you could know that I got braces so I could have beautiful teeth.
I wish you could have one of my chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing.
I wish you could see one of my paper airplanes.
I wish you could hunt for megalodon teeth with me.
I wish you could watch my favorite wrestler with me. His name is Roman Reigns.
I wish you could watch me tackle somebody in football.

And just like that, the list stopped flowing and he was able to move on to the next thing in his world. This key to unlocking his heart may never work quite like this again, but it worked tonight and for that, I’m so thankful. He knows you may never see this list, but somehow just getting it off of his heart began to ease the pain. I pray that one day these words will find you and bring a measure of healing to your heart too, the same way that releasing them brought a measure of healing to our son tonight.