When my sister Karen went into labour, my mom - who had been waiting for her moment to snap into action, hopped on a plane and made it from Prince George to Victoria in a little over an hour where she was picked up by one of my sister's friends who kindly agreed to escort her to the hospital. My mom famously leapt from the still moving car in the parking lot in her haste to set eyes on the chosen one and the love affair with Liam began. He being the first grandchild - there aren't enough words to describe our excitement about his arrival. Sadly I had to wait a few weeks before my introduction - but as I have described to him on many of his birthdays since, if I close my eyes I can still feel the weight of his tiny body on my shoulder when I held him for the first time - and almost 21 years later the memory is in no way diminished. He was beautiful. The first time Karen left me alone with him, I was lifting him out of his little swing when his foot got caught in the seat. As I was trying to free him, I inadvertently bumped his forehead on the top of the swing and he started to cry - which made me start to cry and when my sister came home she found us both wailing - me arguably louder than Liam. Fortunately, we both survived with no permanent damage.
We waited two more years for his brother Andrew to come along - and when first we met he was sitting on his Grandpa's lap with the world's most twinkly eyes and a huge smile. Also a memory I try to embarrass him with on his birthday. I always imagined the time when they were little would be magical and it was - they were curious and full of energy. Liam as a baby learned to hook his toe over the crib and shimmy down and escape causing his Grandma several more grey hairs. Andrew had a passion for the jolly jumper and would happily bob up and down in a doorway, gently spinning, and laughing the entire time. My happiest moments with them was holding one of them in my lap and reading - something they both seemed to love from the time they were little. As much as I treasure the memories of the toddler years, I've found so much more to love as they have evolved into the young men they now are. I have been in agony when they were sad or stressed and ecstatic at all the moments when life went their way.
A few months ago Andrew turned 19 and wrapped up his first year of university. He is talking about being a teacher, following in the footsteps of his parents. And wee Liam, who is no longer tiny, turns 21 this week and wrapped up an amazing year in film school and can do things with a computer that astound us. Their lives are marching on and we all fuss and worry about them just as much now as we did when they were small and I don't expect anything will change that. They are kind and funny and smart - and they will never know how much my heart has broken and expanded by knowing them - how proud I am of the young men they've become - how lost I am at the prospect of not knowing how their stories end.