Today is a milestone in your life, graduating from elementary school to make the big leap into middle school. This morning your dad and I will be seated in too hard metal seats as we watch you shake the Principal's hand and get a certificate that means much more than the paper it is printed on. You will strain and look for us among the sea of people and then flash that smile that I would know in a crowd of a thousand. And we will beam. And of course, I will take pictures. :-)
You came to us six weeks early on February 6, 1998. We weren't ready for you yet. Your room wasn't done and I didn't even have clothes to fit your tiny little preemie body. Your Aunt Tonya and Jammy had to shop and buy the only five preemie outfits that they could find at JCPenney. One was even a clearance outfit from Christmas. I look back at those pictures of us in those early days--Dad trying hard to hold onto you looking nervous, me with bloated face from the preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome that I had--and I can recall so many moments in great detail. I guess that I hadn't lost much sleep yet! McKenzie was a good little surrogate momma for you, pushing on your cradle and sticking her nose between the rails to get a good whiff of you. Tyson was a pup and only wanted to be let out about every ten minutes, beginning his life of driving me crazy, then batting those big brown eyes at me.
You were a gift. I remember laughter and giggles from a short, sturdy guy at two. The stubborn temper that you had as a tike and still continue to this day. How you loved and thrived on a schedule--we would have to warn you that something would be happening ten minutes prior or it would rock your world. The lines of Matchbox cars up and down the hall. The Lego builds that would engross first your three year old mind and continue still--the harder, the better. Sitting in front of Animal Planet and watching Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin, learning every single detail of each animal and bug in the universe. You still know more about creatures than anyone I have ever met. Your temper that grew as you grew up--patient for awhile with someone, then WHAM-O, watch out! The caring spirit you have for animals and humans alike, worried about those that are upset or hurt. The random "I love you, mom" or "I love you, dad" yelled or stated from anywhere in the house or out on the town at any random moment of the day since you were teeny tiny. And the laughter, always the laughter that makes our world go 'round.
I remember when you walked into Lakes for the first day of K-5 and I will remember the day that you walk out of it. We are so proud of the little man that you are growing up to be. We've seen a maturing in you even over the last few months. You try not to cry when things upset you or you wait for bedtime to share your worries. And worry, you do. It's tough for you to control your imagination sometime--you are starting to sound like a few people I am related to! I know that you are trying hard to pray and think about what Jesus would want you to do. Dad and I can see those changes beginning in you.
Zach, Dad and I always have your back. We will support you and keep encouraging you the rest of your life. We want you to finesse your talents and abilities as you go through school, to discover things within you that we didn't find out about ourselves until we were older. We want you to find great friends that keep you moving in the right direction and that motivate you to be the best that you can be. More than anything we want you to mature and develop into a strong man of God and one that loves Jesus with all his heart. And when life gets too serious, we hope that you can always laugh in its face.
We love you Zachman. And we are so very proud of you.
Mom and Dad