I have a confession to make, it’s actually seven long days since your 5th birthday and only now am I sitting down to write this letter to you. Actually that’s not strictly true, I have spent the best part of the last two weeks trying to find a moment to sit and write, only every time I did I found my eyes filling with tears, or that gnawing feeling of panic brewing in my tummy at the thought that my baby boy, my last little Dove, has grown so fast.
Last week before we left for Italy I finally managed to compose myself to sit and write, only for you to pop up beside me, clutching Marshall and Chase, pleading with those big brown eyes for me to come and play Paw Patrol with you. On the plane last weekend I had thought it would be the perfect opportunity to type out this letter in my phone, only I was distracted by the look of pure amazement on your little face as we soared up through the clouds and the thumbs up you flashed every time our eyes met.
By the pool throughout the week I would finally find the words to put down on paper, only for you to shout my name, waving at me from behind your snorkel, shouting “Mummy watch me!” or “Come and look at this!” and it was impossible to take my eyes away from you, even for a moment.
And again at night, as I’d turn out the lights and start to type, I would find myself gazing at you as you slept beside me, marvelling at the length of your eyelashes, the adorable little snuffly sounds you make, and wondering, for the fifty billionth time, what I ever did to deserve a little boy as precious as you.
You see the truth is Harry, I just haven’t wanted to miss a single moment of your fourth year, painfully aware that all of your firsts will also be our last, that all of these precious moments will soon be just memories, lost in a blur of a four year old whirlwind, and that just breaks my heart. For if I had to choose, out of all the milestones you have met and the moments we have shared so far, four was my favourite.
Four was the year you had us all wrapped around your little finger with those big brown eyes and that sweet little smile; the year I held your hand in mine and knew there was nowhere else you would rather be. Four was the year you were full of “I love you’s” and “You’re my best friend”; the year you showered us with kisses and “huggles” from morning ’til night. Four was the year when we discovered that you are the kindest, gentlest, most sweet natured little boy we have ever known.
Four was the year you became bolder and braver, breaking your arm, bumping your head, coming home with scrapes and bruises and yet still smiling, always. Four was the year you flung yourself down zip-lines, rode your bike, swam underwater, climbed trees, jumped waves and built dens; the year you faced every challenge head on and told us, “My can do that!”.
Four was the year you left nursery, without a second look back, the year you started school, handed me your Baa and told me to cuddle him if I ever got lonely. Four was the year you rushed into my arms every night at pick up, with twinkling eyes and a mischievous grin, and answered every question with “Can’t remember”.
Four was the year you went on an aeroplane for the first time, a ferry, a tractor, a steam train; the year you packed your Baa every day in your little rucksack and told us, “Off we go!”. Four was the year when every day was your greatest adventure.
Four was the year you were a dinosaur, a dragon, a knight and a pirate; the year you were never happier than with a stick in your hand. Four was the year you giggled under the covers every night in bed, telling me “I don’t know where Harry is!” before leaping out and surprising me; the year you sang me songs, whispered secrets and told me stories, long past bedtime.
Four was the year when “the girls” were your very best friends, when I looked at you and saw a miniature Lewis, the year I watched you place flowers on Joseph’s grave and just knew you were Heaven sent. Four was the year when you climbed into my arms on every bad day and healed my heart in ways I can never even begin to explain. Four was the year when you were the centre of our whole world. You always will be.
Four was the year you called chicken nuggets “chicken yoghurts”, and the same year in which you stopped. Four was the year you crept into my bed at 3am and the same year those nights became more infrequent. Four was the year your baby face grew thinner, your little legs grew longer, the year I would spot you in the distance and wonder how you ever got so big? Four was the year I watched you become a real little boy, even when it killed me to admit you were no longer a baby.
Four was the year you were kind and funny, loving and intuitive, the year you were crazy and boisterous, a whirlwind of energy and excitement, and your laugher was infectious. You woke up every single day smiling, and went to bed each night just the same; you saw the best in everyone and made the most of everything, and you made me a better person simply for being around you.
You are so beautiful, both inside and out, and so special to us, for all of these reasons and more, and I am so sad to say goodbye to our very last four year old, but so excited to see what is in store. If your 5th birthday in Venice is anything to go by then I think we are in for an amazing year making memories together.
You have been, without a doubt, the final missing piece of our jigsaw, and as I finally sit and finish this letter, tears streaming down my face, I can hear you in the background singing your favourite dinosaur song, and I am nothing but proud of you for all that you are and so very thankful for all the joy you have brought to us this last year.
Happy 5th Birthday Harrison Joseph, our little piece of Heaven.
We love you all the stars in the sky.