Brooksie, when I got you out of bed on your second birthday, I whispered. It was 6:30 and your brother was asleep next door; the neighbors were asleep downstairs. I hate worrying about noise. I wanted to bust in with a guitar and serenade you. (If only I could play.) I wanted to shout to the world that once you weren’t here and now you are! Once you were a thought, a conversation between your dad and me. You were a secret inside God’s mind. I wanted to shout that two years ago you came home! You arrived! You moved into our family and we shared our life with you.
Instead I picked you up. You were standing in your crib, that beloved pacifier I’ve got to figure out how to get rid of in your mouth, holding your two most important possessions: Buppy the blanket in the right hand and Goggy the Doggy in the left. I whispered, “Buddy, do you know what today is! It’s your happy birthday!”
You spit out the pacifier and said, “My peace!” and tried to hold up two fingers. Your grandmother taught you that the symbol for “two” and “peace” are synonymous. Add to that your love for our nighttime prayer: “The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace,” and you get a kid who’s more concerned with turning peace than with turning two.
I’m mesmerized by you. You’re a quiet guy. You use your words sparingly, choosing to answer with a “yeah,” but are rarely willing to expound. Unless of course you think you can get a laugh. Repeat your brother’s “poopy” vocabulary and you’ll get his attention. Point out what items of the house belong to which members. You get very concerned if I ever attempt to use the vacuum. “Mama, dat Daddy’s! Mama, dat Daddy’s!”
You point out shoes, toys and bags. Everything is sorted in your head. Everything belongs to someone and you’re certain we should know.
Your brother is your greatest joy in life, except for maybe your dad, whom you’re convinced spends his days on a magic bus you stand at the window and hope to see pass by. And then when he arrives home, you wrestle with him on the bed until you both lie side by side smiling and looking at each other:
“My Daddy,” you say.
“My Brooksie,” he says.
“My Daddy,” you say.
And the two of you go on and on like that for minutes, consumed with each other.
Every night we share the best parts of our day. You usually say: “Pacie! Geep!” You mean, of course, your pacifier and sleeping, which, I’m certain, are actually the best parts of your day. Nobody loves a nap like you do.
I always hope for celebratory days to be magic. But that’s rarely how it works. Usually we’re trying to pick up the cake on time and hoping the weather’s okay for the party at the park. Your dad and I are tired and you guys are on a sugar high and you’re fighting over the Go Diego Go toy your brother gave you but really wished he’d given himself.
But I want you to know that when I stood over you in the dark of your room on the night you turned two, when I whispered the story of how we waited for you to come that day in March. How you were always called Trexy long before you were called Brooks. How you arrived in the world and you knew my voice and you and I held each other as long as we could. How your daddy was there (He is always there.) and the two of you looked in each other’s eyes and knew you would be together.
And there in the dark room, your eyes were fixed on mine. You sat up in the crib you’ll soon outgrow and you waited for the whole story to finish. Then I sang our song.
I’ve known it from the moment that we met,
There’s no doubt in my mind where you belong.
I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawling down the avenue
There ain’t nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love.
I prayed you’d grown up to be brave and merciful, a man of kindess and justice. And you went to sleep on the night you turned two.