“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Letter to My Sick Boy

Dear Max,

Right now you are asleep on a towel on the bathroom floor. Every once in awhile, you shudder, but mostly your breathing is deep and steady. I'm glad for this, and I won't move you. You might wake up and be sick again.

I have promised you every day for too many days that you will feel better tomorrow. Each time, I'm relieved you don't actually understand promises yet. I will be in trouble when you do. But right now, my promises have not been true and each day this week you have felt equally sick as the day before. It isn't my fault, but I'm still sorry.

I am selfish because I want to go to sleep. I am impatient and my back hurts from holding you and my heart hurts from letting you see that. Instead of thinking about it, I remember the day you were born.

They made me walk to the operating room. With Noah, an unplanned cesarean, I was rushed on a gurney. But with you I had time and, according to the doctor, plenty of strength. At 70 pounds of baby weight gain, I disagreed, but the man was about to bring you into the world so I didn't argue.

Your dad was made to leave the OR during my spinal tap. You probably won't want to hear this but, buddy, I took a massive needle in my spine for you so you're hearing it. My doctor held on to me to keep me still, and he and the anesthesiologist joked over who was more worthy to be the baby's namesake. Both had terrible names, but again, I stayed silent.

You had already been Max to me for quite awhile.

When that awfulness was over, they laid me back on the operating table. One side of me wasn't numb, so they tipped the table and I felt the rush of nothing fill my other side. It's a weird feeling that you only understand once you've had it.

I was afraid.

I have never fully been able to comprehend you, Max. You weren't part of my plans, which has always made me feel unworthy. From the moment I learned you existed, I felt sure I would mess something up for you.

But I was afraid for nothing. You came into the world screaming, if a bit blue. You already looked chubby and round and I loved you instantly.

Then you refused to breast feed. Clearly starving, nothing I did could make you eat what I offered. You just preferred the bottle, and that was that. It was hard for me to give up, but you had begun to lose that lovely chub. You are more stubborn than I am, and in the end, I was afraid.

But I was afraid for nothing. You ate from the bottle perfectly, and became the chubby-cheeked baby everyone needed to squeeze and kiss. You're not a cuddler, but you put up with it.

Now you are two. You are a monster toddler. I feel sure most days that I won't survive you.

But I look at you now, asleep in the floor in the bathroom, and I would give anything to make you better. It has been long days and long nights, and you hurt. I hate that you hurt, Max. I know there are much worse things out there in the world than this nasty virus, but I don't want you to hurt anymore. So I'm praying. I've tried everything else, and now I'm just praying.

You are my special angel sent from up above. You are my special angel, here for me to love.

I am afraid tonight. But I hope I am afraid for nothing. I pray tomorrow you will smile and laugh and make such trouble I only have to be afraid I won't survive you.

Sleep tight, special angel.

Love, Mom

Monday, February 1, 2016

Groundhog Day

I would just like to whisper a small thought out into the cold winter night.

You are not forgotten.

There are times I still look for you. I think you might just be in the kitchen, or in the next room, or getting ready back in your bedroom while everybody waits. It would be OK with me now to wait just one more time.

I see a gigantic car in the road, a real whale, that cruises smoothly along at a whopping thirty-five miles per hour and isn't going to move any faster, not even for fire or blood, and I think of you. I think of how we kids groaned in the back seat because we were never going to get where we wanted to go with you driving. I can smell the inside of your car: leather and fruit, because you kept ten thousand oranges and bananas in the garage. You let Pauly and Janie climb in and out of the windows like they did on Dukes of Hazzard, but not me. You took me by the hand and said, "They're just crazy and going to get hurt!"

I opened your cupboard about ten months ago and I saw your sugar bowl. If anyone had said, "What does Grandma's sugar bowl look like?" I would have laughed. "How should I know?" I would have said. But when I saw it there, tucked neatly in with the dishes, my heart stopped for a moment because I could hear your voice again. "Just put this on the table, Lovey, and then come back and help me."

When it's a bad day, a really bad day, I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I remember your arms around me. Not like at the end, where you were a feather and I was a gust of wind and it made me afraid. No. Instead I think of the real you. The one who could bench-press a train and once lifted me up in the Statler ballroom and polka-ed me around the dance floor, laughing the whole way. Your hugs made the world stop. They held me in place. They said, "You are all I care about in this moment." You were so strong. I know that.

When I look into my son's green eyes, I have to close mine for a second. So much of you is still here. It's still your world, and it amazes me that it keeps on turning and we have to live in it without you. 

When I look down at my hand and see your ring, which fits perfectly, I imagine the day you first wore it. The way you laughed your laugh and placed your hand over your heart, and it caught the church lights and sparkled and you said, "Some day maybe you'll have one just like it."

It's a big world, with big problems, all the time every day. And they matter. To a lot of different people, all kinds of things matter. Probably much bigger than a girl and her grandma. But you still matter to me, and I thank you for being that sort of person. The sort worth remembering and missing. We all love you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Special Blessing

I had my oldest son Joey when I was twenty-five. I didn't think that was terribly young at the time, but now that I'm thirty-five and I have a sixteen-month-old, I am amazed at the difference ten years can make.

I've often mentioned that Joey was a surprise. A welcome one; we wanted children and were thrilled to start our family. But there has always been something about being a mother that triggers my awareness of my own imperfections. When Joey was born, he was perfect. A part of me wondered whether the Universe had made a mistake. How could I, someone filled with mistakes and flaws, deserve this perfect little person to depend on me to help him grow up and stay perfect?

I think in verbalizing that question, I've summed up all the anxieties I've felt since having children.

Joey had surgery today. It was minor and simple, but it took up our whole day and required him to be under general anesthesia, which is a frightening thing. He wore a gown, had an IV, and was taken away from me. Wide double doors closed and locked between us. I had no idea how many minutes or hours would pass before I saw him again. Every episode of Grey's Anatomy replayed in my mind, where some random patient came into Seattle Grace/Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital for something simple (like hiccups, for example) and never left.

All day long I wrote this blog in my head, memorizing details and choosing the words to describe my moment to moment emotions. In the end, all of it really only mattered to me. The fear, the worry, the love. The random moments where I was proud and relieved and just wanted to cry for no reason I could understand.

In the end, what mattered is how I saw myself surrounded by other parents who also love their children so much. I was reminded by the hour, by the minute at some points, that my children's health is a gift I cannot take for granted. Tonight I pray that my little boy won't throw up again from the anesthesia, but I pray bigger prayers for the other children I saw today.

Not long after Joey was born I visited a place called Lily Dale, a little outside Buffalo, NY. Lily Dale can be a little controversial, I suppose. It's a community of psychics. The women in my family like to go, mostly for fun, but sometimes for reassurance or hope. It was my first time visiting and I didn't expect much beyond a lot of laughing and a nice lunch. I had both. But I also had a rather unique experience with the psychic I visited. She was a tiny old woman, who held my hands in her shaky ones. She smiled knowingly and said, "You have a son."

"Yes," I said.

"He was a surprise."

"Yes," I said.

"You doubt yourself?"

"A little."

"Babies choose their mothers, you know."

I was silent. It was a concept I had never considered, and therefore foreign to me.

"They do," she went on. "And your son chose you. It's not up to you to wonder why. What's important is that this boy wanted you to be his mother. He is your special blessing."

I never forgot these words. I don't know how much I can believe the bit about babies choosing their mothers. I love it as an idea, but I've been a teacher for too many years and seen too many lonely and broken children to swallow it whole. I hold tight, too, to my belief that God decides. But her other words, those I have kept in my heart. They are the nest that holds all the love I have for Joey, Noah, and Max. "He is your special blessing."

My heart broke for Joey's fear today. I crumbled more at his bravery. I wished he was still small so I could hold him tight in my arms against my heart. And yet I know what a blessing it is that he is whole and well and tomorrow will be fresh and healthy and strong.

Today made me grateful.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ten Reasons I Make a Terrible Grownup

Confession: I have no idea how to be a grownup. I fear this has been wildly apparent to the general public for some time, but my meager attempts at hiding it have officially exhausted me. I've also become aware of something else some time in the last week/month: I'm not the only one. I don't know if thirty-five is the magical age where people realize this, or if it's taken me inordinately long, but I feel so freed by this that I'm shouting out ten of my craziest I'm-a-lousy-grownup secrets for all the world to hear. Even my Mom. Because you know what? I've decided they don't make me a bad person after all.

1. I don't move furniture to clean. Once in awhile, a toy will fall in a hard-to-reach place or, worse, something large is being delivered and Joe has to shove the couch out of the way and, well, it's mortifying.

2. I have more than one closet where I have to duck when I open the door.

3. My children have clothes two sizes too small in their drawers. Sometimes, when they dress themselves, they come skipping into the room with with their forearms and ankles showing and they are befuddled by my shrieks of horror and insistence that they change outfits immediately.

4. School forms are the enemy. I still have some from when Joey was in first grade. They are tucked in the handy "organizers" I've purchased and set up specifically for school forms. I'm quite sure the office has a fat file with my name on it, and it's filled with all the panicked notes I send in explaining that, though I've misplaced the form, can my child still be permitted to go on the field trip/attend the social/eat the candy bars/go to school that day?

5. My basement looks like an episode of Hoarders.

6. My children hide things under their beds and I pretend not to notice.

7. In the event of unexpected company, I have swept dirt under the rug in the entry way.

8. I buy fancy baskets so I can hide, not clean up or organize, messes.

9. My children eat processed foods. Many households have two working parents who have figured out how to have fresh/organic/paleo/gluten free/nontoxic/brain-strengthening meals and snacks at the ready. Shamefully, we are not yet among those people.

10. I still wear maternity underwear and I don't care about panty lines. Of all the problems in this great big world (and as clearly indicated by this post, I have a few), I don't want uncomfortable undergarments to be one of mine.

My hope is that somewhere in this list of my deepest and darkest, you went Gasp! Me, too. (Though it probably wasn't number 10.) And other than that, don't judge me too harshly--my mom will do it for you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I was ten years old when I first experienced the loss that comes with the death of a loved one. It would be a long time before I felt it again. I remember it vividly however, and have carried it with me in all that I do in the years that have since come and gone.

This time, of course, is different. Like visiting a place you knew well as a child after many years, the colors have changed, the sizes seem out of proportion, and time seems to have sped up and slowed down all at once.

I was asked to write something and speak at my grandmother's funeral. "You can just put something together, right?" Right. Easy. My favorite addendum was, "We can all give you our stories and you can just put them together into a little speech?"

As I sat at Grandma's dining room table today, a sea of photographs flowing around my elbows, I was relieved that the speech was no longer a thing. Catholics don't go for personal eulogies, and while we'd hoped to be an exception to the rule, we were gently reminded that we were no more special than anybody else. But I was relieved, because the more waves of pictures that rolled toward me, the more stories I saw. My grandma wasn't just my grandma. She was an ocean herself, deeply layered with the experiences of eighty-four years well lived.

Someone had said to me, "Of course your story will be all about how she took care of you when you were sick." Like that was it, that was all I'd come up with to say about a lifelong relationship. When I was four years old, she was my best friend. Last Thursday night, while we watched Wheel of Fortune, she was fast becoming a memory. The last words I said to her that night were, "'Do you know the way to San Jose?'" I'd solved the puzzle, but she'd already fallen asleep for the night. 

But it was the photographs today, and trying to organize them by relationship or importance or historical sequence, that made it clear to me I could no more compile everyone's stories in a short speech than I could control the weather. It would be an impossible task. My grandmother was a lot of things to a lot of people, and all of them were very lucky to know her. She was what many of us can only hope to be: Important.

But I can tell you a little bit about how she lived her life. 

Runner of the Year for over twenty-five years. We tried to figure it out and lost count. Weight-lifter. Book club member. Tour guide at Our Lady of Victory Basilica. Crisis counselor. Substitute teacher. Maker of amazing meatballs. She made the best salads, of all things, but they were delicious. She was classy. Sleek. She made looking good at any age look like a breeze. Her smile was dazzling. Best of all, it was real, every time. She was a friend, the kind everyone deserves to have but rarely finds. She was fun. She laughed often and loud. And she loved. She loved so many people with everything she had. She fought hard to the end to hang on because she loved us all so much. I know that. She was our friend, our mother, our grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, teacher, counselor, and things I'll probably spend the next few days hearing all about that I never knew.

But dear Grandma, you were the strong hand that held mine when I was a little girl. You were the voice that softly called me "Lovey" and your baby, even on my wedding day. You saw the best me when I was my worst, and more than anything else, you made sure I knew how much you loved me.

I hope you knew how much we all love you. Always.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Moments I Fell In Love With My Husband All Over Again

Most people know that I've loved my husband Joe since the moment I first saw him twenty years ago, and there are some terrific constants that make him easy to keep on loving. He's honest and loving and over-the-top ridiculous about a lot things, which include shutting off light switches while I'm still in the room, but also include making a big deal out of loving me. I really enjoy people who make a big deal out of me because, well, I'm kind of a big deal.

But aside from all of that, my favorite thing about being married to Joe is that over time, there are little moments that make me fall in love with him all over again, right then and there, and the fluttery feeling in my chest, the one that makes me giggle and cover my face like I did when I was fourteen, strikes me almost unexpectedly. In honor of the fact that one of those moments occurred recently, I decided to share a few here.

1. A few anniversaries ago, he bought a leather-bound journal. In it, he will periodically write me love letters and then leave the journal on my nightstand or pillow to read. He doesn't do it all the time, but here and there so that down the road I will have a book filled with all the reasons he loves me.

2. I love to psychoanalyze. One of my favorite questions to consider lately is, "What is your favorite font and why?" I asked Joe. "Oh," he said, thinking. "I'm not sure what it's called. It starts with a G. Garamond." I almost fell over. "That's my favorite!" I exclaimed. His face filled with teasing as he winked and said, "And that's why we're so in love." (*giggle*)

3. He once caught my vomit in his hands. I was seven months pregnant with Joey and in the hospital with kidney stones. Overwhelmed by the pain and the fear that something was wrong with Joey (I didn't know at first what was wrong), I shouted, "I'm going to be sick!" We'd been left waiting too long and there was nothing in the room for me to use and I couldn't get up. Joe dove in front of me, fingers laced together and said, "Just do it. I've got you."

4. We were at JC Penney's buying lamps. The ones I wanted--really beautiful ones with Victorian shades and wrought iron roses up the bases--were labeled as buy one, get one for a dollar. At the register, the cashier tried to tell us the sale had ended the day before. Joe leaned one elbow on the counter, looked her square in the eye and said very calmly and with not a little bit of charisma, "Now, I used to work in retail. So I know you have to honor that sign that's still posted over there." The woman all but melted, and so did I. In that moment I wished I worked in retail, too, so I could tell him something was on sale.

5. The time Joey asked him to read out loud to the class instead of me, and he did it with voices and expression and every little face in the classroom was open-mouthed and awestruck with the magic of my husband the storyteller.

6. The day he taught Noah to read. Noah was two.

7. When Max was a newborn and I found out I couldn't breastfeed, I lay in bed in hours and cried. And not a lovely, delicate, "Oh, my, boo-hoo," but a gross-nasty, snot-covered, choking orchestra of sobs. Joe finally came into the room and pressed his forehead to mine, put his arms around me, snot and all, and said nothing. It didn't erase the pain, but it made me able to breathe again. It made the crying stop.

8. When he wears the Dr. Seuss pajama pants that Noah picked out.

9. When, after a parent-teacher conference, I was all set to talk shop, and I began with, "I didn't like that at all!" and he responded with, "I know! Why are her teeth so small?!"

10. Once, I was in a terrible mood in the middle of a date night, which I realize is a bad time to be in a terrible mood, and so Joe began echoing all my negativity by expressing hatred over everything we passed. "Look at that stop light! Why is it so red? That's stupid," and "What's up with that building? It's too ugly to exist," and concluding with, "What's with that guy walking? Get a car, moron!" These are not things he'd typically say; his goal was to make me laugh, and he succeeded.

11. When he didn't like a new rule at our sons' school which really was a bit of nonsense, he turned to me and said firmly, "I reject that policy." 

12. When I bought Divergent to watch with my nieces, Joe downloaded it to his tablet and read the whole series. He also read Twilight, just so we could talk about it.

13. He has a firm belief that pajama pants should not be warn in public, not even to Wegmans.

14. Once he came home from work, and where his dress shirt was open at the neck, I spied writing on his undershirt. I realized he'd worn a Metallica t-shirt to work under his dress clothes.

15. The first time I bought him clothes, they included a few shirts of a brand I noticed he wore a lot. "Brandini." When he opened them up, he smiled, held them up the shoulders and said, "I love them! They're my favorite 'brandini.'"

16. When he folds my clothes while doing laundry, he handles them like they're all super delicate. "I don't know what to do with them," he said once. "They're so small, like doll clothes!"

17. Every once in awhile, I turn around to find myself looking at a small, foiled wrapped grape jelly. And it's still just as exciting as it ever was.

Nobody's perfect. I'm not perfect, and I can tell you that my husband is not perfect. But life isn't about perfection. It's about perfect moments and how much they count. I love you, Joe.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Tribute To My Child's Eyes

The twenty-mile ride to the school where I work usually takes me thirteen minutes, which I think is impressive. It's mostly Thruway driving, but just the same, I go ahead and rock that drive every day. I have reasons for having perfected it, not least of which is that every single day I'm in a big hurry to get home and see my annoying, stinky, yucky boys. They are my everything.

This morning my twenty-mile ride took me forty-five minutes. Fifty-five if you count the ten minutes I needed to pump gas. They've been predicting snow all week ("they" being the weather experts), down to the hour it would begin. This blows my mind, because you'd think the snow plows would be prepared. You'd think that with us being Buffalo, the snow plows would be prepared. You'd think with us being Buffalo, and having missing two consecutive weeks of school due to a massive snow storm, the snow plows would be prepared.

As of seven o'clock this morning, nothing had been plowed.

This made for a glorious drive for school, in which I muttered over and over to myself in the deafening silence that can only be created by snow, "I don't want my children to live without their mother." I kept my hands at ten and two and said a lot of prayers as the wheels of my four-wheel-drive SUV caught in the two ruts over the highway, dragging me this way and that way through wind and walls of snow. Tractor trailers blew boldly past me, only to be seen jack-knifed in ravines along the side of the road miles later. My windshield wipers kept clogging up with clumpy snow and then freezing, dragging smears of slush across my windshield. Off the Thruway, I had to pray hard as I approached green lights. "Please don't change, please don't change, I can't stop, I can't stop." This is winter driving in Western New York. Basically, a wing and a prayer.

I thought I was through the worst part of my day by lunch, and that things had cleared up by the time I was ready to head home after work. It had stopped snowing, and while the roads weren't totally clear they were drivable, patches of pavement visible here and there. I waited for my windshield to thaw out and began my twenty-mile trek.

Halfway there, my cell phone rang. This is usually a fluke. No one, I mean no one, ever calls my cell phone. Anyone who knows me well is aware I never answer it (I rarely know where it is except at work, where I can't answer it), and anyone else has dialed the wrong number. My dashboard lit up with alerts, the car began speaking to me (this is a design flaw, I think), and the number on my radio flashed to the number of my children's school bus garage.

Alerting me of a snow day to come, I could only assume.

"Hello?" I asked, ready for good news. I was expecting a robot voice, signature of the automatic call system that alerts us to emergency days off and other such nonsense. Once, to let us know the school district's phone systems were down. (Then how are you calling me, creepy robo-caller??)

"Mrs. Bielecki?" a very non-robotic voice said back. 

My heart dropped to my stomach. "Yes?"

"I'm the head of transportation in your children's school district. Your son Noah was injured on the bus. It seems he fell and hit his head on glass. He has a bad enough gash and is bleeding badly enough that we needed to alert emergency services and have them check him out."

Breathing has stopped. Heart is frozen. Knees are gone.

"I'm sorry. You called 911?"

"Yes, ma'am. The police are on their way, as well as an ambulance. Are you...can you get to him?" And he went on to tell me the specific location of the bus, just miles from where I was on the Thruway, but in that snow, in that moment, it felt like the other side of the world.

"I'm on the Thruway," I said helplessly, though I may have been yelling. Not at the transportation guy, but from sheer lack of control. And yet I knew, the driving was bad enough that if I didn't maintain control I'd get in an accident and be even further from reaching Noah.

"How far?"

"Ten minutes."

"Okay, ma'am, I'll have them wait. Can I give the police this phone number to reach you?"

After hanging up, I immediately called my mother. When your world turns upside down, who else is there? I swallowed, realizing that this was what Noah was thinking, as I scrambled through the "easy to use" touch screen to find my mom's number. 

"Stop yelling at me," she said, confirming my earlier suspicions.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm sorry."

"No, don't be sorry. I'll go right now."

By the time I arrived, I saw I had been preceded by two police cars, an ambulance, the fire department, the school principal, and my mother, all parked surrounding the confused-looking school bus, parked askew in a department store parking lot. I flew out of the car, trying not to slip on the slush-coated ice, and was halted by a fireman.

"I don't want you to be startled," he said without preamble. "We did our best, but there was so much blood, we had to bandage him up pretty good. We had to cover the eye that was cut, and we're calling him a pirate. I think he likes that." I began to walk on, but the guy stopped me. "Ma'am? He's a really great kid there. He's been real brave and hasn't cried once."

I moved to the bus door, from which my mom was emerging. She reached out and grabbed my arm. "He's fine," she said. "He's really fine. He needs to go to the ER, but he's fine. Probably just stitches." I nodded, and sort of felt myself passed along between the police officers, propelled up the bus steps. The driver stood to one side, looking like this might be the most surprising thing that had ever happened to him, and a policeman was kneeling in front of a heavily bandaged little boy, an EMT beside him. 

The little boy turned his head so his one eye could see me. The visible part of his face was coated in splotches of now crusty blood.

"Mommy?" His little voice. Small. Tiny. 

I was aware of the police and the EMT continuing to talk to me, of a clipboard being thrust in front of me and papers I needed to sign. But the only thing I really could see or understand was my little boy's one good eye.

Noah's eyes are so beautiful. They are my favorite part of his face. I love his eyes.

It was decided we did not need an ambulance, my mom took Joey in her car with the plan to meet me after our visit to the emergency room. "Everything will be okay," she kept saying. I only believed it because it was her saying it. Anyone else and I might have lost it.

Once in the car, Noah kind of perked up. "They asked me all kinds of questions! My name--they asked me that like a hundred times--and your name, and Joey's name, and where I live, and what my school is....isn't that silly? I mean, we all go to the same school!"

His newly adopted cheer prompted me to ask the really key question in all of this. "Honey, how did this happen?"

"Well, I don't know. The police wanted to know that, too. I was just sitting on the bus, when suddenly it went over a bump--or something--and it shook me so I fell into the wall and bumped my head on the window."

"Just the window?" I asked. "Was it cracked or something?"

"No, the metal part at the edge."

Rather than the hospital or one of the local hospital satellites, I opted for an Immediate Care as it was closest. I drove into an empty lot, and peered into the windows as I unbuckled Noah and helped him out of the car. No one was in the waiting room either. The receptionist leapt from her chair as we approached the doors and greeted us as they glided open.

"Oh, my," she said, eyes widening at Noah's horrific appearance.

We had a zero second wait. The nurses and doctor were wonderful. The gauze bandage that encircled Noah's head was removed to reveal his forehead totally coated in blood, but a completely clotted gash above his eyelash line. I swallowed hard when I saw it. Already clotted. Lucky. Right above his eyelash line. Lucky. Very, very close to his eye, but not his actual eye. Lucky, lucky, lucky. I had to remind myself what it meant to let air into my lungs.

And my little boy? So brave. Impressive, even. Not once did he cry. They tried continuing with the pirate theme. "I don't like pirates," he finally announced. "But I am brave." Yes, Noah. Very, very brave.

As if we weren't already praying our thanks, it was determined that he wouldn't even need stitches. The cut, big and deep as it was, could be glued. Just like that. Like this was Madam Pomfrey and we were at Hogwarts, not Immediate Care, and any second Dumbledore would enter with lemon drops. 

Just as the doctor was finishing up, my mother burst into the exam room. "Joey's at home with the sitter," she said. She glided to the bed upon which Noah lay and rubbed his leg. His uniform had blood all over it and he was wearing his big winter boots. He looked so small and silly.

"When I saw you there, Grandma, I knew everything would be okay."

And I knew exactly what he meant as my mother squeezed my arm, leaned in, and said, "You want to scream, don't you."

I did, Mom, until you came.

I am thankful that Noah is okay. I hope I never have to live through that--the not knowing, the scary phone call, all those emergency vehicles, that powerlessness. I am thankful that, in the end, it was a cut. A cut. My God. It's Christmas, and people suffer all over the world, and my kid has a cut. Thankful is not enough of a word.

But there's more. A feeling just as huge. I am hopeful that Noah will know I love him the way my mother loves me, and trust that I will be there the way my mom is always there. No matter what. No matter what.

And now, a few of the better pictures of my son's beautiful eyes.

 I love you, Noah Michael.