How Birthday Letters to My Son Help Me Not “Miss It”

Four years ago today, I cried my eyes out as my first son was born after 51 hours of labor (my wife is a champ).

We also didn’t find out what the gender was beforehand, so it was an unforgettable moment when I got to announce, “It’s a boy!”

It never crossed my mind what my first words would be to our little baby, but here’s what came out as I held that precious child for the first time:

“It’s 2017, and it’s weird out there.”

That’s it. That’s the first thing I ever uttered to my child.

In the end, it’s not so bad.

My other child was born last year during the fall Covid spike (11lb birth weight, my wife is a double champ). Was 2020 stranger than 2017? Decidedly so.

As I sit here and consider the last four years, I am filled with such wonder and gratitude. That little boy helped save me from the worst parts of myself.

I see that now. I didn’t before. It’s funny how we perceive some things so clearly as time passes.

Tonight, we close with a long Carl Sagan quote that I used to close the very first birthday letter.

“On our small planet, at this moment, we face a critical branch point in history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization, and perhaps even our species as well. If we capitulate to greed, or superstition, or stupidity we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of Classical Civilization and the Italian Renaissance. But, we are also capable of using our intelligence, our compassion, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet; to enhance enormously our understanding of the universe; and to carry us to the stars.”

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