“Does that stethoscope really work?” he asked, his blue, marble-like eyes widening.
“Of course! I am a real doctor,” I said, straightening the lab coat I had gotten made for his Halloween birthday party.
I’d had it embroidered with “Meredith Grey M.D. F.A.C.S.” to wear along with my scrubs, messy bun, Grey + Sloan Memorial Hospital ID badge, and converse sneakers.
He looked so adorable in the “Lothar Classic Muscle Warcraft” costume that I had surprised him with the night before. I don’t know what or who “Lothar Classic Muscle Warcraft” people are, so I just called him a badass knight, and he totally embraced it.
He was four days short of five years, and I could scarcely believe it.
“Can you check my heart?” he asked, fake muscles bulging from under his faux armor.
“Of course I can. My speciality is in general surgery, but I’ve done plenty of cardio.”
I put the ear tips inside of my ears and tried to place the round end of stethoscope on his chest, but I hit padding. I tried to go from underneath, but realized that the costume was all one piece, and so that wouldn’t be possible. I tried to reach down the top of his suit, fishing the bell of the stethoscope under the layers of polyester, but I just could not reach.
“I need to access your heart.”
And then it hit me. I had just said it all.
My love story with Beau is not the traditional one.
I have written a lot about the guilt I feel surrounding his early days (/years).
The fact that postpartum depression robbed us of so much togetherness during his time as a baby. That we loved each other, but were not connected in that fierce, enchanted way that one expects to connect with her newborn.
Over the years I have written countless posts about our bond, as it has it has blossomed and grown contemporaneously as it has blossomed and grown on the pages of this site. In the book. Everywhere.
It has been a slow courtship at times, and mad love, always.
Like him, it can be very subtle, yet profound. It can be quiet and big at the same time.
Our love is intense and warm.
We have tender moments, and dance parties, and epic battles of wills.
I love Beau deeply, and not just because I have to; not because I should.
I love him because he is funny and smart and creative. I love his imagination and empathy and eye for detail. I love his stubborn streak, naughtiness, and his heart, so big that I cannot believe it can be contained in that small (albeit extremely tall) body.
I appreciate the love we share not in spite of our tumultuous beginning, but because of it.
Once my severe postpartum depression abated and I started to see light and color, again, I wanted him to want me in the way that I wanted him. And yet, for a long time (and I mean years), he chose me last. He loved me, but not as much as he loved his daddy, or his Bubbie or, most of all, his big sister. When he had a boo-boo that needed kissing, he sought out another’s lips. When a group of us walked through the door to greet him, he jumped into another’s arms.
When no one else was available he would cuddle into me and let me love on him, but I always felt as though I was some sort of consolation prize.
“I need to access your heart.”
I would say it silently, to myself, when watching my son choose someone else’s embrace over mine over and over and over, again.
Like Meredith Grey, I would look into his eyes, and I would say, “Pick me. Choose me. Love me.”
But there was always an Addison. A roadblock. Just like with every great love story, I suppose.
A couple of years ago, things began to shift. Our love story veered in a new direction. I went from a supporting character to a series regular. And while Belle (his “Boppy Girl”) will always be his leading lady, he allowed me to be a star; his star. It was me that he started to come to for comfort.
It was my hand that he’d reach to hold; my body that he’d curl up to in his slumber after a nightmare; my kisses that would soothe him; my nook in which he fit perfectly.
On the day of his fifth birthday party, I could not figure out how to listen to his heart with my old stethoscope, but I most certainly had access to his heart. I was the one who carried the cake out to him, surprising him with a icing-made-photo of his face, rimmed with Batman rings. I was the one who held his arm while he made his wish.
But, this is not about me.
Beau, you amaze me. You are clever and kind and good. You are tenacious and quirky and bright. Your face is so handsome that I have to kiss it every time I am in its proximity. Your chin — the first thing noticed about your little face when you were brought over to me in the OR on October 24, 2013 — is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, with its perfect dimple.
I love the fact that you embrace your uniqueness; that you are proud to be the only one in our house who has red hair (that’s really strawberry blonde), with blue eyes (that really are spectacular), and who is a leftie. You always say, “I am special!” and I hope you never, ever forget it.
You are a wonderful human.. You the best brother in the world. You are an extraordinary son.
And, today, you are five.
It is an honor to be able to access your heart.
I will never be able to thank you enough.
Happy Birthday, Beau Beau…
and many, many, many more