12 years ago, I birthed a child…a very large child. This large child has turned into a large boy, who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager. He is unusual in all of the best ways for his age. He is loving, caring, kind and sweet. He worries for others and his best friend is his dog, strongly followed by his next door neighbor. He loves baseball and video games and his mom and dad. He dislikes missing school, but likes playing hookey for his birthday.

He is still laughing at the joke on our pizza box (per mom’s request of the delivery man) two hours later. He thinks chai lattes are special and that getting to lay in bed with mom and read books before bedtime is a treat. He worships his daddy and smiles at everyone. No matter where we go, we see someone who knows him. As far as Gatlinburg (4 hours away), people smile and wave at him and call him by name.

He loves his family beyond all things. Cousins don’t have names, they are simply “Cousin” and that name is precious beyond most others. Family first is not lip service; rather, it is a real act of the heart.

He is all of the best parts of his daddy and me and I like him as a person, as a son, as the sweetie that keeps me going on my worst days.

Happy birthday, A.J. And thank you.