You have always been my sensitive guy, wearing your heart on the outside where it’s more vulnerable. I am convinced it is simply too big to be contained within your chest, and that’s why it breaks so easily. Because of that sensitive heart you’ve taught me so much about love.
You are a rare find, my son. Your empathy for those around you is a virtue few share. There was a time when you were very young that you saw a commercial on television about a little girl who was six years old, very close to your own age at the time, who was dying from cancer. Her wish was to see a real princess. I remember the tears that poured down your cheeks because it was the first time you realized that children could die. You didn’t cry out of fear that this could happen to you or someone you love. You cried because you realized for the first time that life is as delicate as butterfly wings sometimes. You said to me, “Mom, I’m glad that she got that last wish. She was able to see how beautiful life is before she died.” You never fail to see the bigger picture.
You are the only little boy I know who cries when his fish die, insisting that they be buried properly. At first I was frustrated because I couldn’t soothe your hurt over a dalmatian molly’s demise, wishing we’d flush it and move on. But then I realized something. To you, all life, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is precious, a gift to behold, a loss to be lamented with vigor. In that instant, wiping away the tears on your cheeks, I knew that you loved that fish as much as I loved you. There aren’t enough rivers in the world to contain my tears if the tables were turned.
You see the overwhelming value in the relationships you have. When someone has wronged you and sincerely apologizes you are quick to forgive and forget. You love the way we all should–without barriers, without question, without condition.
You are keenly aware that words matter, and how easily they can hurt. You are the first to offer encouraging advice, the first to lend a helping hand, the first to help soothe a wounded heart.
Caring for others is so much a part of you. You’ve had numerous pets that you’ve loved and cared for all on your own. The desire to love something is strong in you. It’s what makes me certain that you will be an amazing husband and father someday.
You are willing to do everything possible to save the relationships you have. I saw that when you quarantined your fish in a bucket and fed it antibiotics, changing its water daily, spending upwards of thirty dollars to save the life of a 99 cent fish. This part of you makes me certain that you will fight just as hard for the people you love. That’s a rare treasure to find in someone these days.
You are willing to give of yourself even if it comes at great cost to you. You had saved for months to buy a new dinosaur, something you talked about so much that Dad and I were beyond tired of hearing about it. Then the Pennies for Patients campaign came to school. Without a second thought you donated every cent you saved all those months for to the campaign because “kids with cancer need help more than I need another dinosaur,” you said. You broke my heart with pride that day.
You may only be twelve, Tony, but you are someone I aspire to be more like.
We should all love without measure.
We should all exhaust every possibility before giving up on anything.
We should all treasure and respect the love we receive, regardless of how small.
We should all be filled to overflowing with compassion
We should all love with our hearts on our sleeves, making us vulnerable and more in touch with those around us.
That’s what love is, my son.
And I learned that from you.