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It was your birthday yesterday.

When you woke up in the morning (to the loving sound of your sister singing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the top of her lungs from the bottom of the stairs) you were still seven, but a couple of hours later you officially turned eight.

Your teacher emailed me to say the class sang ‎to you at exactly 9:11am (the time you were born) and I knew you would get a kick out of that. For all of your easy-going ways, you still appreciate the clarity that comes from precision.

I got to drop you at school, something that almost never happens. You took my hand as we walked down the stairs at the back of the school yard and chatted away about something I no longer remember. Truth be told I wasn’t listening very closely; I was too busy looking at you and wondering how it’s possible for eight years to seemingly pass in the blink of an eye.

As we neared the corner where we would turn into your play yard you slipped your hand out from mine and started to run ahead, eager to see your friends, your baseball glove and tennis ball at the ready.

A glimpse.

I wonder how much longer you will let me hold your hand ‘in public.’

I wonder how much longer you will let me kiss your cheek and smooth your hair and cheer (embarrassingly) loudly for you from the stands of a hockey arena or baseball diamond.

Your older sister has taught me that these things are fleeting, only lasting a definite period of time, based on a timeline that I can neither predict nor change.

One day you will do what you have always done, and the next day you will not. You won’t even realize the change, but I will. A line will be drawn in the sand between then and now and I won’t fully realize how much I miss ‘then’ until I can no longer go back.

We went out for dinner last night and you brought along two friends from your hockey team. The three of you sat across the table from me, still young enough to have little plastic lids on your drinks but old enough to order for yourselves and go to the washroom together chuckling the whole time about a joke I probably wouldn’t understand.

You chatted with your aunt on the phone, at one point telling her you were out for dinner and “had two buddies” with you.

Buddies.

Not friends, but buddies.

For some reason the way you said it gave me pause.

You now have buddies.

All of a sudden I could see you at 16, you and your ‘buddies’ coming through my front door, in the house only long enough to empty my fridge and grab some sporting equipment from the garage before jumping in the back of someone’s car and being off again. I can almost feel the words ‘drive safely’ and ‘wear your seatbelts’ caught in my throat.

‎I try to reassure myself that there is time, so much time between now and then, years and years to get used to a new normal.

And then I realize how quickly the last eight years have gone and say a silent prayer that the next eight pass just a little slower.

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