The year I turned 19, a synth pop masterpiece entitled "19" made its way onto the music charts. The song, by Paul Hardcastle, was an 80's style protest against the travesty that was the Vietnam War, which had been over just ten years (in the American attention span, ten years is an eternity) when the song was released. The number referred to the average age of the American soldier fighting in that war. As a nineteen year old, I was grateful that I wasn't going to war. Instead, I was going to Miami as a missionary. But now that I think about it, a lot of Miami was like a war zone back then...
Today, there's a new nineteen year old in the Den. It's The Boy's birthday today. He is the last of our children navigating his last year of teendom. Those can be tenuous years but he's made the most of it, giving the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML a lot more to laugh about than cry about. He's a young man now and in just seven days, he embarks on his two year mission. It's something we've been anticipating for nineteen years.
Nineteen years ago, when we held The Boy for the first time, we hoped that nineteen years later he would be making the choice to serve a mission. In my mind's eye, holding that brand-new baby then, I saw a glimpse of a young man in a white shirt, serving somewhere. We knew then that if he did make that choice, that his nineteenth birthday would be bittersweet. That bittersweet day is today.
The Boy's had a good last birthday at home. He's making the most of his last few days here. Next year, he'll celebrate his 20th birthday somewhere in Chiapas, probably eating goat. We won't be with him, but he won't be far from our thoughts.
Happy birthday, son, or more approprietely, feliz cumpleanos!