Dear Leeden

Oh my child—my child who is not my child
But who sits in my heart just the same
You are so grown up now, just looking at you
Walking with your own two feet and talking in complete sentences
and no, you don’t need to hold my hand anymore—
but maybe just in parking lots.
My sweet baby—the one I held so many times in the so many
places that I lived in, on funny street names
and in big tall houses and smelly apartment buildings.
I carried your pack and play crib up two flights
just to bring you home again at 2am because I
couldn’t get you settled and asleep. I didn’t know as much
as I know now about rocking children to sleep and
cradling their little frames and singing songs
to put their minds at ease.
Oh my child, all the nights I spent reading to you
when you were two and could pick out the books you wanted.
And we would read and read
until you fell asleep on me with your arms spread out, mouth a gap,
and dreaming inside that sweet little mind of yours.
I prayed and prayed so hard to every God and spirit out there
that you would be protected and nurtured as your mind developed
and bloomed all the beautiful thoughts, plans,
and ideas I know are in store for you. 
I have watched you grown from total innocence
to complete fearlessness and you, my dear, can conquer anything
your heart so desires–
I hope you acknowledge that truth every day of your life.
I will never forget the many adventures we had or lakes we conquered
or how you ran that day with determination,
bottle still clenched between your teeth, into
those waves and chased them until they disappeared on the shoreline.
I watched in amazement as your little mind tried to wrap itself
around the idea of water and movement.
Oh my child—my child who is not my child
But who sits in my heart just the same
Who can write his own name and count so many numbers
and point out different shapes
You are going to school soon and you are growing up.
Not a baby anymore, but always my baby—no matter how big you get,
I will always hold you close.
I love you more than sleep and more than books
and more than any wave of water on this earth.

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