Seventeen years ago today I was living in a town that hadn’t grown more familiar over time. The yard was an archeology dig with layers of accumulated blizzards somewhat offset by highly efficient snow removal. Going out involved getting four children, ages 6 ½, 5, 3 ½ and nearly 2, dressed to the point that no one would call the authorities. But that day there was a break in the action, a bit of a thaw so that you felt like perhaps, it would not be always winter.
It snowed the next day of course.
But at that point it no longer mattered because there was new life in my arms and spring in my heart. Matthew Fredrick, known from the moment he joined us, as Matty, had arrived. And although my children were tiny themselves, it was from the beginning as if Matty was everybody’s baby. There were challenges—deathly food allergies in an era when the words ‘gluten-free’ drew nothing but a blank stare—but even this was faced together. Six pairs of eyes always watching, multiple hands held out to cross busy city streets, laps for sitting never in short supply.
I worried about this sometimes. Wondered if a day in the future would come when his wife would look at me and say, “What were you thinking? He’s completely helpless!” But it didn’t turn out that way. When he went to school his kindergarten teacher said, “He does for his classmates what has been done for him—tying shoes, helping with schoolwork, seeing those who need a friend.”
Today is his Golden Birthday, the natal celebration when one turns as old as the date of one’s birth. Seventeen is my favorite number, but this was a much shorter trip than I imagined on the day he arrived.
Happy Birthday Matty Fredrick. You are loved.