A Letter to Jovi Starshine on his Gotcha Day
To my Starshine on his Gotcha Day. A year ago, you showed up here in your red-and-black sweatsuit, with pleather stars in a semicircle across the chest. You didn’t know what they were called yet, but you loved those stars. When it came time to pick your middle name, your brother suggested Star. You picked Starshine, after the song from Hair I sing to you every morning. “I Jovi Starshine,” you said. And so, you are. You were three-and-a-half when we found each other. The second day I visited you at your foster home, I took you out for lunch. You wouldn’t stop facetiming Daddy in the car. When I finally insisted we walk into the Sizzler rather than sitting in the parking lot all day, you pointed at Scott’s face on the little screen and me sitting there gobsmacked in the front seat, and said, “Him my daddy, and her my mommy.” I can only imagine how frightening it was for you when your prediction actually came true. Miss Johnson (your foster mom before you came to us) dropped you at our house a few days later and then slipped out the front door because she had a hard time with goodbyes. And just like that your world changed entirely. So many mangled goodbyes in your short life. A lifetime of terrifying and unfamiliar and unsafe everything. You didn’t speak much for weeks. It was scary for us, too. But we believed in you from the minute we looked into the depths your sparkling, huge eyes. My heart still kvells every time I see them peeking up from behind the couch, where you like to hide and wait for us to find you. There is nothing in this world as wildly sweet as watching those eyes open when you wake. For just a moment, they are as tender and as young as they should be, nestled in your puffy morning face. You have a thousand faces. Sometimes you walk like a prize-fighter. Sometimes you walk like a runway model. You talk like a sixteen-year-old. You talk like a two-year-old. You are an ever-shifting mystery, and yet I can’t imagine a time you weren’t with us. I feel like I’ve known you always; you are a part of my body and soul. You fight with your brother nonstop, but you two won’t be apart from each other for five minutes. You push and pull. You want to be close but you’re afraid.
Truly you are a miracle, my glorious son. You couldn’t hold a crayon, and now you write your name. You could barely speak and now you know all your letters. You couldn’t count to three and now you count to fifty. You are funny and musical. You love to listen to KISS and Weezer and Panic at the Disco. You dance even when there is no music. For you, there is always music. I can see you’re listening to it. I wish I could hear it. I hope I will someday. You love to play pranks. You want a snake for the holidays, just so you can scare me. You have a flair for drama You love makeup and costumes and masks. You keep lip gloss and Pokémon cards and your Barbie “cell phone” in your Elmo purse. You love to press buttons. You love sloths and dogs. You don’t even know that your dog Calvin is usually grouchy and growly and snappy, because you have brokered some kind of magical agreement with him, in which he sits there contentedly while you hug and kiss him, and put your fingers up his nose. No one- I mean no one- has ever done that to Calvin without practically losing a finger. You dad likes to say that you and Calvin have “an arrangement.” I like to think Calvin feels your heart and knows that you are deeply gentle. You are also a fighter. You show me your muscles ten times a day. You are growing stronger all the time. You know it and you want to make sure the world around you reflects it. I hope I do. A year ago we tried to go to a bowling alley on New Year’s day and you sat there emaciated and overwhelmed, crying and shaking in your winter coat. Yesterday when we bowled, you stood tall and strong and bowled a strike. You are my heart and my hope. I love you beyond all imagining. I can’t wait to see what this next year brings. Love, Mommy