someday you'll turn 6
and our house will be filled with screaming little boys
chasing each other around the house
playing pirates or ninjas or Star Wars with your dad.
I will soak up Kool-Aid off the floor (I'm sure it will be red, the kind that stains the most)
and scrape pepperonis off of the table
we'll hear giggling all night long and the zip, zip, zip of sleeping bags.
someday you'll turn 16
I will go upstairs to sing you happy birthday
and you'll stick your head back under the pillow with a grumble.
but you'll perk up just a little bit when you see I come bearing pancakes
and I know that under that pillow you were smiling just a little bit (pancakes will do that to you).
we will nervously watch you drive away for a night with your friends & a shiny new driver's license
and boy will we miss the giggling and the sleeping bags.
someday you'll turn 21
I will call you at college to sing you happy birthday
the call will go to voicemail and I'll instantly worry about where you are.
then just as I'm about to leave a message, the call waiting beeps and it's you.
with a drowsy and muffled "hi mom"I tear up at your voice (I'm sure I worried all night).
I'll ask about your plans for the day and tell you that I miss you
and very quietly so that your roommates don't wake up, you tell me that you love & miss me too.
someday you'll turn 40
your bedroom door will creak open and tiny feet will climb up onto your bed;
tiny arms will hug you and present you with construction paper birthday cards.
you'll reach over to put on your glasses to read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY"
with drowsy but happy "thank yous" you admire their work (my grandchildren are such creative geniuses)
macaroni and glitter get all over your comforter, but you don't mind
because everyone is in the kitchen making pancakes for you and they always make you smile.
someday you'll turn 100
and generations of your family & maybe the local news will gather to celebrate you.
a table will be set up with photographs commemorating your life
your great-grandson will hold up a photo of you in my arms on the day you were born
"you sure were tiny back then grandpa!" you'll chuckle (making your eyes crinkle up like they do when you laugh)
you'll tell stories of your childhood in Kalamazoo, of your mother and father and who they were
promise me you'll look around that room and be proud of everyone and everything that exists because you do
today you turned 1
I had to blow your candle out and make your wish for you
I closed my eyes and dreamed of a hundred birthdays, each happier than the last
I wished for sleeping bags and pancakes and glittery birthday cards
for the kind of friends who can tell stories about you from long, long ago (even the ones you wish they'd forget).
I won't be there for all of your birthdays, but I hope I'm there for most.