Dear Teddy (“Bayba Tedah” as your brother calls you),
My precious son, you were born in peculiar times. Given all that’s happened these past few months I thought I’d share some thoughts with you.
You were discharged from the NICU and home to us the day before shelter in place orders were declared. Your birth was six weeks ahead of schedule, and about four weeks before a global pandemic was announced, ushering in a season of urgent caution which has permeated all aspects of our lives with a murky fog of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is one of the few things we are actually guaranteed in this life. At the end of the day, we just don’t know what the next one will bring. If we’re lucky, we’ll live in times of relative stability and be gifted the privilege of worrying about tertiary burdens. I will say however, that it’s times of uncertainty that seem to chip away the vernier of existence and peel back from our layers of comfortable insulation. It’s times like this where we bump up against the real, the true, and the things that actually matter. So in many ways, you are born into an historical moment with a lot less fluff and noise.
I wish with all of my marrow and might that I could guarantee you a life of safety, but I cannot. It’s beyond my control. And so I’m writing to you a message that I believe transcends our current predicament and any that may still be subsequent. Basically, here are some words I can’t not say.
I love you son.
You are squirmy, soft, and sacred.
When you breathed your first breath I had none.
Your presence in our lives is like a daily unfolding melody of grace that I can barely keep up with.
Because you came miraculously early (fortuitously wasn’t quite the right world), your mother was only able to hold you for a moment before the medical professionals took control. Then it was you and I for a while until she was cleared to join us.
You spent about 4 weeks in the hospital gaining strength and kicking butt. Much of the butt kicking was because your mother tirelessly stayed by your side and gave your body all it needed from hers. That woman is tough as nails. Your big brother was getting the house ready and hanging with your grandparents.
We’ve been home for a while now and these days have been the most contrasting combination of mundane, heavenly, hard, ecstatic, tiring, energizing, and holy. I find myself going between feelings of “not wanting to miss a moment” and feelings of “what’s happening in the world and with my work?”.
So when I think about what I want to write to you, mostly I want to say, welcome and I love you.
Life is worth it in the end. There is so much to see and experience, even if these times are uncertain.
At some point you’ll learn that a big part of my life is this thing we call ‘faith’. Faith is a word that approximates a deeper reality that I can’t shake from the deepest parts of me. It’s synonymous with hope. Love is in there too. When those three words dance it’s pretty awesome.
Those words all point to something. To me, they don’t point to things being “happy” or “safe” or even “good”. What they point to is that ultimately reality is a choice. A choice between choosing what defines you. In the end we do not have much power over whether the future brings prosperity or calamity. What we do have choice over is whether we will be defined by temporal things or transcendent things. To me, faith, hope, and love are transcendent- they go beyond and are more real, powerful, and all encompassing than temporary trails.
Son, my prayer is that above all things you would choose to enter into those things in your life. That you would walk the path of love, breathe the air of faith, and sing the harmony of hope. And that when your feet fail you, the air gets polluted, or the song is drowned out, that you would lean on the faith, hope, and love of others.
Faith is the daily decision to orient your being around a hope beyond yourself. That there is good behind it all.
Hope is the act of trusting that no matter what comes your way, love is still is worth giving and receiving. That even in dark times, there is light.
Love is the choice to see all of life as sacred in a way that holds all and bears all. That when all is said and done, love will remain. That love wins.
I know that might all sound lofty or imprecise , but those are the truest words I could type at the moment. Luckily there are lots of stories, songs, and prayers that we’ll share at some point that might help color in the blank spots.
So son, I love you. I can’t tell you how excited I am for you to play with your brother, throw a baseball, taste ice cream, have tickle-fights, dance silly, sing sincerely, hold loved ones, and experience all that consciousness embodied has to offer. Your mother, brother, and doggy are so happy to have you join our family. The days ahead will not be boring, and in the space of one another, there will be (and already is), an eternal joy that I’ll never be able to put words to.
Teddy, you are a gift to us and to this world and any voice that tells you otherwise is a lie.