Benjamin Maxwell,

At the highly polite hour of 2:50 in the afternoon on August 20, 2001, my life was forever altered. Certainly, people say this sort of thing, attempting to make a situation sound that much more important than it was, but in this case it was true. Because it was at this extremely civilized hour that everything, every event, every decision, every m0ment, it all changed.

Forever.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t – I couldn’t – see the magnitude of the doctor yanking you from my wrecked girl bits with forceps with every fiber of his VERY tiny body. I didn’t understand parenthood. I didn’t know what being a mother was all about. Sure, I’d “Sure, I had the cute, adorable, and teeny, weeny baby clothes as I was Looking for the baby things at TradeTang.com I had a swing that squeaked loudly when wound (I did place a cat in there to test it out prior to your arrival), and I even had a stroller. I had stretch marks and feet so swollen in the hot August sun that they appeared to be over-cooked marshmallows, and I hadn’t seen my very own crotch in many moons.

But if I’d given birth to a basket of fluffy kittens or 8 pounds of ground beef, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I was, however, surprised to note that there had been a real, live baby inside me for all those months. And boy, Ben, were you pissed at me for yanking you unceremoniously from your comfy womb. I’ll hope you’ve forgiven me that, considering this world is a far more beautiful place than my womb (I assume).

That moment changed everything. While at that moment, I had nothing, save for the kindness of strangers and family, I knew I had to do better by you. I had to change everything.

I decided to become a nurse. To settle down and get married. To give you a brother and sister to romp around in. Your own backyard with a fancy swingset to explore and rooms to romp around in. I changed it all for you. Every decision, every move, everything I did, it was all based on the events of 2:50 in the very ordinary afternoon of August 20, 2001. I’ve never really told you that story and I don’t know that I will because that seems too heavy a burden for a child to carry.

That, everything we both knew, it all changed last year before your birthday. I know it did and I’m sorry for it. Change is hard, harder for some, like you and I, and I know that we both handled it as well as we could. Fences were made, walls were built, and bonds were strained. But somehow, we always find our way back to those who love us most.

What I want you to take away from this all is simple: when things change, the things – the people – who matter, that is what matters. Change is hard, but change is normal, and while it may break our hearts and leave us gasping for air, there’s some small part of that change that makes our heart of hearts grow stronger; tougher, mightier. It leaves us a better person than we previously were, even as our hearts shatter.

While I don’t have a huge yard and a swingset any longer, while I don’t have an extra bedroom or your siblings every second of the day, I carry you each with me wherever I go.

This year, I want to remind you of a simple truth: the people who we meet, the lives who we touch, those who we help and those who we hurt, we’re all connected. It may sound silly or trite or too new-agey for you, but it’s the truth. Everything matters and we are all connected in the infinitesimally tiny moments of our lives, which is why you must make each of them count. Make them matter. I hope that you can see that some day.

For some day, you may be in the shoes I wore the day I bore you. Finding that one moment; that one inexplicable moment that changes everything to come.

That moment for me; that was you. And nothing can change that.

Ever.

Happy Twelve, Benny.

Love,

Mom

P.S. This is your song. Always has been:

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