It is so hard to believe that you are 4 now. I have only been away from you for one day of your whole life. It was Sunday, July 6, 2008, the day after your sisters were born. Daddy came home to put you to bed that night, but of course, I stayed at the hospital with Glory and Elena. Other than that, we have spent your life together. And yet, I cannot quantify you, I cannot encapsulate all that you have been or are- your light is so bright and the pulse of your life is so fierce and ecstatic that I cannot contain it, even in my own memory or thoughts. I sit with a string of memories and feelings that have brought us to this point where you are 4, sleeping upstairs under your pink blanket that you successfully stole from Glory and the penguin blanket that Grandma Barb and Grandpa Hal gave me when I was 10 years old.
You sleep with your face about as close to your nightlight as it will go. Dad and I suspect that sometimes the light wakes you up. And when you do wake up, you want to hear music. This has been an aggravation because all of your CDs skip, due to being carried around by chubby fingers and being spun on the concrete floor as though there is a turntable and you and your sisters are the dee-jays. Finally, last night, I made you a new CD, with a few of your favorite tracks and a few of mine. When you woke up in the night last night, you screamed. You were mad as hell. Where were your CDs? And what was this crap I had left in their place? But, when I finally got you to quiet and listen to what I had to say, we solved the problem and I left you with the CD playing. When you came into my bed this morning, you said with the sweetest smile on your face, "You put the "I love you" song on that CD." I wasn't sure what you meant, but later it was confirmed that you were talking about "I'm so glad I'm here" by Elizabeth Mitchell. We left our copy in the hotel CD player in Las Vegas and even before that, we hadn't listened to it much. So, I was surprised you remembered it and that you named it so perfectly. It is the "I love you" song. It's the song that reminds me that I am so glad I'm here every day. Joy brought me here. Love brought me here. I'm so glad I'm here every day. I have had that phrase written on the white board I bought to encourage you not to freak out every time I turn off the TV. But you cannot read. So you didn't know that. But ever since I saw a child next door at the daycare screaming endlessly for someone to love him, to cherish him and to comfort him, I have had that written on my heart and on the board. So, it made me joyful when you said that.
Two nights ago, Dad was at his board meeting for New Horizons and I got to put you to bed after Glory and Elena went to sleep. When we had read "The Button" and "The Story" from "Frog and Toad are Friends", I turned out the light, and as your music played, I stood over you and said to you the blessing you have heard countless times.
The Lord bless you and keep you Emanuel Clark. The Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you, Emanuel Clark, with favor and give you peace. In the name of the Father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Let it be so!
But this time I said it like a benediction. Like one of those fantastic benedictions that only come once every few years and somebody says something like the end of the book of Jude-
And now to him who is able to prevent you from falling and to present you before his glory, without fault, and with great joy, and to the only God, our savior, be all majesty and power through Jesus Christ our Lord, forever and ever, Amen!
So somebody says that, but it sounds different this time, and something inside me quakes because I know, in that moment, that I am loved and wonderfully made and life is so much more precious and beautiful than I usually treat it. So I said your blessing like that. Like it really matters. Because it does.
And you got the biggest grin on your face, and in the glow of your nightlight, I could see your eyes sparkling. Really, I could. And you said to me, "Thank you so much for saying that! That makes me really happy!"
So what I want you to know about Manny at 4 is that you make me really happy. Thank you so much for saying that. And thank you so much that you sneak in a snuggle whenever you are able. If I sit down, you are immediately looking for love, regardless of how impatient I have been or if the girls are crawling all over me too. And thank you for your endless stream of knock-knock jokes, why don't you marry it jokes and now why did the chicken cross the road jokes. You keep me laughing and when I said to your sisters tonight, "I love Manny's laugh," they both beamed and said, "I love Manny's laugh too!" Except Glory, who almost exclusively refers to you now as Manny Clark Lai, as though it were one word.
There is so much more I could say about you, but I have to do the dishes. And Daddy has to keep typing his reports, which makes me feel like at least one of us should go to bed. Just in case you wake up and need some music.
You are music in motion Emanuel Clark.