A letter to Reed
Dear Reed – About this time seventeen years ago, I was finally holding you in my arms after 14 hours of pretty hard labor. But at that moment, I didn’t remember one single bit of the pain, because my dream of being a momma was finally achieved and your story began.
The nurse wheeled you and the lady’s in the next room baby down to us. Suddenly, the other baby’s 3-year-old sister popped her head out of the room and said, “That’s my new baby brother.” The nurse responded with a simple nod and a “yes”. “What’s that baby’s name?” The nurse replied, “Reed”, at which the little girl put her hands on her hips and said, “But I can’t read!” Instead of chuckling, I panicked. What had we done! Because Reed is a family name, it never occurred to me that it was also a homophone. But it was too late to we had already made it official. And to the little girl, she only knew that your name was written on the bassinet and she didn’t know her letters yet to “read”.
Right up until the 11th hour, we were going to name you Jackson Theodore (after my favorite movie character and president), but over Mother’s Day we changed our minds. Reed Daniel just seemed fitting. We spent hours pouring over baby name books and dissecting the meanings. Even though we weren’t enamored with the meaning of Reed (red-haired), we still stuck with our hearts and named you after your Grandpa Jr and Papa.
When the nurse wheeled you in and I got to see the cleaned up version of you, I laughed out loud because under that miniscule knitted cap were the tiniest red curls I had ever seen. It was then that I knew definitively that God has a healthy sense of humor. He took my fears and washed them away by making the earthly meaning of your name a part of your DNA.
It was a reminder to me that He knew your name the moment you were formed and He knew that your adorable red hair would always be a part of your identity.
There are so many things that God knew would be a part of your story, and looking back, we wish we could have known how little time we would have to help write that story. As for the rest of us, we continue to pen the story of our hearts missing you and facing (albeit not bravely or not composed) all those firsts without you.
God knew and so did we that you loved learning, but we were all shocked when you announced on New Year’s Day of 2007 that you would be attending Yale University. So when your first private college application arrived over Christmas last year, I was totally unprepared and I lost it. We guessed these things would happen, but I just wasn’t ready for it. Desperately, I wanted to sit down and say, “Reed, I know it’s not Yale, but what do you think about this one?” Thankfully, the story of your love of learning carries on in your scholarship.
The same thing happened when I went to the school on a Sunday night with Sawyer and saw 9 of your classmates’ parents filtering out of the building. I knew immediately – junior class parents all together meant a prom meeting. They didn’t see me, but I pulled over and bawled and bawled. I wanted to help you pick out a tux, pick flowers for your girl, and make a real Southern feast for your first prom. But instead of popular tunes, your music was the sound of prairie grass waving in a North Dakota field.
I know I am not the only one who misses you. In the past year, we have all had our ups and downs. Daddy just has never been the same. He misses you with every fiber of his being. Sawyer changed his mind on you doing the hunting and him being the chef. He went to see you in North Dakota and got his first deer on Uncle Bryan’s farm place. Well, he somewhat changed his mind, because he is still the most fabulous cook. He also took on some leadership roles with his faith this year – just like you did near the end of your story. Erin still continues to grow and mature, and we have seen her take a stand (even among friends) to do the right thing. You would have been proud. And Cloie, she misses you beyond her years. She really wishes that you could send her a letter from heaven, but she comforts herself with stories about you and your adventures. Those stories have become a part of her identity and while on vacation, she told one about “remember when” and she wasn’t even a year old when it occurred. But we have told it enough that she knew exactly when and where it happened; so now it is a part of her story.
I just wanted you to know that we are celebrating your 17th birthday today, and Cloie will be sending you a letter on her balloons. Even though we are bracing ourselves for the other firsts of your senior year, we are almost daily comforted by the fact that your story (well God’s and your story) continue to transform lives.
And that, my son, is a story well-written!
Loving you until we see you again – Mom