Dear Brody

A few years ago, I wrote your big brother a letter for his birthday because I’ll NEVER be the aunt who gives *good* presents.

I will always attempt to know what is cool and fail, so all I can ultimately offer you right now — ever — is presence. I am here for you. I will be here for you. Always. This truth will mean different things to you throughout both of our lives. Regardless, it is yours to have and to hold and use whenever and however you deem necessary. (Read: I can be your one phone call, but let’s hope that never happens.)

Just as I wanted Brayden to know the love I felt for him and the lessons I learned from him in the days leading up to his birthday, I want to do the same for you now. Although there will be many moments in life when the world—and sometimes even yourself—convinces you that you’re somehow lacking or “second best,” I want you to hear from me the VALUE of the number that you carry in your family line.

Nearly one year ago—while driving the same route I will take to watch you face dive into your first piece of cake on Saturday—I passed a sign on the way to the hospital that read: “The heart is happiest when it beats for others.” Although the message was fitting then, as my heart was beating double-time at the news of your arrival, it is even more fitting for how much I believe it represents you as a person now.

Brody, both you and your father carry the title of “second child” and, as such, immediately entered the world with the task of sharing attention and space. However, just like you both possess those beautiful dark eyes that ironically light up a room, you have this selflessness in common that is nothing short of magic to witness.

Instead of screaming or scratching when your big brother takes over a new toy to “show” you how it works, your smile somehow becomes bigger. You take pleasure in seeing HIS joy. You giggle so much your nose scrunches and your belly shakes. It’s completely infectious. I look forward to seeing how that quality in you continues to grow and transform those who are lucky enough to be in your presence. “The heart is happiest when it beats for others” and, Brody, your heart is so very happy.

Another beautiful quality about the number you carry is the power that it packs when it is partnered with “chances.” Not long after your birthday, Grammy and Poppy (my parents) will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary. You will hear a lot of stories from both of them in time, but the one I don’t want you to miss is what happened when they first met.

As you know, Poppy likes to talk but Grammy thought he talked a little too much on their first date. When he called her to go out a second time, she only agreed because she thought he was a different fella. Lucky for him—and for you and me technically—he just needed that second chance to win her over. The rest is history. First loves, first kisses and first wins are indeed a beautiful thing, but I promise you there is nothing compared to the wisdom and pure charge that is found in second chances. They humble you in the best of ways. They make you work harder. You learn to love better. Take hold of them when they are offered and return the favor when you can.

Finally, remember that second is not just a place in line but the most basic and important unit of time. Seconds are currency. They are the difference between life and death, win or lose, here or there. Seconds shape people. They change people… like the second I met you. Happy 1st birthday, little man.

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