My dearest Nathan,
You laid in your bed snuggled up beside your stuffed Mario, Stingy the sting ray, Oreo the black and white cat, your little gator, and several other stuffed animals that made their way to sleep next to you.
"I love you all the way to Publix and back" you said, starting the nightly ritual I love so much.
"Well, I love you all the way to Target and back" was my reply to this sweet little game we often play.
"I love you all the way to Mario Kart land and back!"
"Hmmmm, I love you all the way to Texas and back."
"Oh, that is a long way!" you said, thinking hard about your next answer to trump the distance to Texas that you are all too familiar with. "I love you all the way to heaven and back!!"
This year has been quite incredible as you have flourished in both health and personality. You have been blessed with an amazing gift, my son...the gift of making a positive impact and changing the lives of those you encounter. Through the unusual and often difficult adversities of your life, you can show others how to live happily and joyfully through intense hardships. Your actions and attitude speak volumes to those around you. Your bright smile and immature humor often brightens the lives of each person you meet. You have been given a gift from God, my dear Nathan...the gift of the ability to triumph through trials.
You have always had quite a charming and magnetic personality, but it seemed to grow even more this year...probably due to the fact that you have consistently felt so much better this year than in previous years. Participating in quite a few public fundraisers and venues through Children's Miracle Network lately, your father and I often marvel at the fact that you seem to know when to turn on the charm. You do not seem to have a shy bone in your body, and your timing is often impeccable with various waves, smiles, sayings and jokes. The impact you make with your exuberant personality is quite incredible to watch from a parental standpoint.
But the aspect of your life that I have enjoyed watching grow the most as you have grown older is your depth of love for those around you. Due to the fact that you have endured more painful tests, annoying exams, and being poked and prodded by seemingly hundreds of strangers through the first few years of your life, I honestly totally expected you to be leery and stand-offish when it came to meeting new individuals. However, the contrary is true. You are not at all afraid of new people...much to my amazement. You fall in love with others quickly and deeply. You have a "wife", many best friends who are much older than you, and you are constantly trying to figure out how to interact with kids your own age (something I hope will continue to develop when you enter kindergarten and are actually around kids your own age). You hug freely and genuinely love most everyone you meet.
And I hope you are aware that you are loved by countless others, my Natey boy. I feel so incredibly blessed and fortunate to be your mother. The amount of people who have been touched by your life is simply amazing, and I am quite humbled by the fact that I am the one who gets to help you dress in the morning, help you with whatever you need through the day, and tuck you in at night. You know that I love you with all of my heart, but I hope you also know that there are so many others in this world that love you...think of you often...and pray for you. My son, your life is an incredible blessing to so many.
I love you all the way to heaven and back, my precious Nathan Andrew. Happy 5th Birthday!