When the doctor announced you were a boy and gently laid you on my chest, I didn’t know at the time that you would be my last. When you wrapped your little hand around my finger and our eyes met for the first time, I had no idea that it would be the last time I experienced a bond so new. When I brought you home and rocked you in the nursery, I didn’t know then that you would be the last baby to make that nursery a home. Looking back, I realize that just like the firsts were so very special with your brother, the lasts were just as special with you.
It’s ironic that when I first found out I was pregnant with you I was both excited and yet somehow still nervous. I was so very afraid there just wouldn’t be enough of me to equally love you and your brother. Oh how wrong I was. The moment you were born I quickly figured out that I didn’t have to share my heart with you both. Instead, my heart grew bigger. It grew so big that I immediately knew having “enough love” was never going to be a problem of ours.
There of course came a point in time when I did in fact realize you were the last puzzle piece. You were the part of our family that was missing and with you our family became complete. Of course, with that epiphany came the realization that you were the last baby. I want you to know that being the last baby comes with a great deal of responsibility and honor. You see, your brother paved the way. He was our first, but you, my love, you are our last. Your brother started our family and you completed it. The engine of the train leads the way, but without the caboose the train would be missing something. You are our caboose.
In case you should ever start to doubt just how much you mean to me, I want you to take this letter and keep it with you always.
My dearest caboose,
My love for you was big from day one and only grew bigger. I wasn’t always good about writing down your milestones but each and every one of them is etched in my mind and they will remain there…always. The first time you called me mama, the first time you laughed, the first time you crawled, the first time you walked, and the very first time you ran and didn’t look back right away.
I remember the smell of your head. I remember the softness of your feet. That is love. Love holds onto these little moments. I remember your first day of preschool and in a blink there we were at your preschool graduation.
I remember putting you on the big school bus for the first time and knowing you were ready but doubting that I was. I wasn’t. I remember comforting you when you were scared and sharing in your excitement when you hit your first baseball. I remember your joy of art projects and spending my days picking up scraps of paper remnants while my feet stuck to random pieces of tape. I remember knowing that I would surely miss them both.
I remember the way you passionately called every child in your class your friend before saying their name when you would tell me a story about them at the dinner table. I remember the way you looked up to your brother. I remember the way you just wanted to play with the big kids. I remember when you became the big kid. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t.
I remember the way you gave everything your all. I remember knowing you were always going to try your hardest, you were going to love big, and you were going to always be a giant light shining in the dark.
I remember the many times I smiled with pride and hid the tears as to not embarrass you, but they were there. They were always there. With every step, every turn, every milestone you amaze me. You make my heart continue to grow. One day I will be standing in a sea of parents watching our babies graduate from high school. I want you to know that the tears are my way of trying to let go of the baby who first wrapped his hand around my finger and the smile is my way of letting you know that it’s okay. It’s OK, because in letting go you somehow make my heart continue to grow. In the end your brother is the engine and you are the caboose, but I am the engineer and once I get you both safely to where you are going my job is complete, which is ironic because, my dear caboose, you completed me.
very, very much
Shel Silverstein The Giving Tree