Hi Baby Boy. I love you. Happy 9th Baby Bear. I know it is technically now the 10th, but we had a full day and I wanted to give you the time that you deserve. Mommy just finished putting the final touches on our arts and crafts project today. I hope you like it.

We miss you like crazy. I guess your kitty missed you even more than usual, too, because this morning he managed to pull out your drawer with your shoes in it and dump them on the floor. Either he missed you or he wanted to try to wear your shoes the way you always liked to do with Mommy and Daddy’s because Daddy found one of your flip flops full of bite marks that Smudge carried all the way across the living room. You may have many holes all over your rubber shoes now, but they are measly compared to the massive depression in our hearts. One of your great mysteries is how someone so small could occupy so much of my soul. You have all of it, my little bear cub, but somehow, I wish I could still give you more.

We do random acts of kindness whenever the opportunity presents itself during the rest of the month, but we try to make the 9th extra special because that is the day you were born. You will always be special, Caleb. February 9th is the day you brought more love into our world than we ever knew existed. We continue celebrating your life and trying our best to “be nice,” the way you commanded us to do. However, not having you here physically to wag your finger at us and squint your eyebrows in disapproval when we fail is still extremely overwhelming. You were nice even when people didn’t deserve it. I’m still working on that one, Baby Boy, but you would be happy to know that Daddy picked up my slack today. He went to lunch with a friend and left extra money for the waitress despite the less than attentive service. 

We also decided to paint rocks today since the weather cooperated. This is something I know you would’ve liked and also something that despite you needing help, you would’ve refused any and ended up with paint all over yourself. I could almost hear “self, self” and feel the jerk of your shoulder pushing aside any inkling of my assistance. 

Some of your friends came to help us paint and I realized how much bigger they were since the last time we got together. I couldn’t help but wonder how tall you would be and what kinds of things you would be saying by now. I truly believe you will stay 2-years-old forever, but I will probably always wonder how you would look and act as your friends grow and change.

So, what does painting rocks have to do with being nice? Well, Baby, we are going to hide them all around town and let these happy symbols and messages surprise their new owners to add a bit of fun to their day. We are also going to take some to people who might be lonely or need a little encouragement. If decorative rocks could create world peace, one of your favorite buddies would be first in line to make that happen. I talked to her on the phone tonight and she asked me if we could send rocks to North Korea, and to Texas where they had the hurricane come through. I might be able to swing some deliveries to Texas, but if you want us to send rocks to N. Korea, I’m going to need a lot more direction. Still, I love your friend’s heart and I know she misses you. (Check out the sign she made for you.)

After we painted rocks, Daddy and I took a dealership of vroom vrooms and left them at the entrance to the baseball fields close to where you played on the playground. There were people swarming everywhere so I imagine your favorite toy disappeared quickly. It also makes me wonder how many wagons you visited tonight and how many younger siblings you entertained during the games. It made Mommy sad that you never got to play baseball or even watch a game from a dirt pile close to the bleachers. You would’ve been the boy with a muddy bottom and ketchup dribbled down your shirt. You would’ve tried to write your name in the ground with a stick and imitated all the big kids as they warmed up to pitch. 

There wasn’t much room in the parking lot and we had worked up an appetite painting, so we decided to eat a quick drive-through dinner. We knew fast food employees aren’t paid well so we thought it would be nice to tip whoever took our order. Daddy asked the young girl if she had a tip jar, to which she replied “I wish.” Her reaction when Daddy gave her the extra money was really cute. It was only five extra dollars, but she gasped and said “oh my gosh!” 

Our last stop of the night brought us to a laundromat that was new to your kindness. You made an appearance at “Grandma Pat’s” ladies’ group this week, and in exchange for telling your story, several unsuspecting visitors to this laundromat got free detergent or a small love offering to go toward their clean clothes, courtesy of the ladies of St. Eugene’s. It is one of the basic necessities of life and something those of us with washers and dryers in our houses usually take for granted. Please watch over all of those who received the quarters and help bring even greater change to those who need it most.

Still, I know that no matter how much money, gifts, or vroom vrooms we distribute, the pit in the center of my core is still heavy. I miss you. I love you. I’m still in shock that this is our life. Maybe I’m expecting too much from these projects or selfishly wanting to feel that sense of altruism that usually gives people the warm fuzzies. Right now, I can’t feel any of that. Some days are counted down by the hours and sometimes by the minute. Nights turn into days and the blurred lines turn into broken senses. I’m not the same person that was here when you were, but maybe that is normal. The hole you left is so raw, deep and consuming that I truly believe a part of me left with you. Maybe that is how it works there. Maybe I am already with you not because time works differently there, but because a huge piece of me really IS already there with you. If you know this to be true, I wish you would whisper in my ear how many more hours, days or years we will have to wait. I don’t know how all of this works, Baby Boy, but I know this is the most challenging test of patience I’ve ever faced.

However, even if I have to live to be 100, I promise you that until my last breath, I will not stop telling the world what an amazing little boy you are. That will never be something that is in the past tense. You are and always will be an incredible, bright star, and I will always be grateful I got to be your Mommy here on Earth. Keep helping us share you with the world. I love the grip you have on anyone who embraces The Caleb Effect. Do you even know how powerful you are? I do.

One day.

Love, Mommy